Raring to go

16 December 2022

The Jambos welcome Kilmarnock to a sold-out Tynecastle in the cinch Premiership on Saturday afternoon and the boss explained everyone just can’t wait for the competitive action to resume.

“It was good to get the break,” he said. “We had a number of games prior to that with our European campaign.

“We got some good training in during the break, and we got a couple of games in too, but mainly it was about trying to get the fitness levels up for some of the guys who were out injured, and we’ve managed to do that.

“Everyone has probably found it a bit strange having that length of a break at this time of the season, but we’re back at it now and we’re all really looking forward to another full house at Tynecastle.”

As the season approaches the halfway stage, Neilson is hoping that now he can call on the services of Stephen Kingsley, Craig Halkett and Kye Rowles on a more regular basis, his side will be tighter at the back.

“We’re sitting in 5th position now and we want to try and push up as high as we can. We assessed the league campaign so far and how we’ve been playing and can see that we’re scoring more goals than last season, but we’re also conceding more.

“So, that’s an area that we really need to try and rectify. I think getting more consistency in the selection of the defensive unit will make a big difference to us and we’re hoping that will help us push on.”

Fresh from his World Cup exploits, Kye Rowles will miss tomorrow’s match through suspension, although Cammy Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson are available for selection. The manager hopes the trio’s recent adventures can act as a motivation for the rest of the squad to experience major tournaments on the international stage.

“It’s a motivation for the rest of the squad to try and get to that level. They come back and talk about it in the dressing room, so hopefully the rest of the players have the motivation to get to that level.”

On Saturday’s opposition, Robbie added: “Kilmarnock beat us here in the League Cup and we drew at Rugby Park with a last-minute equaliser. We know it’s going to be difficult. They will be very well organised; they’ve got good physicality and they press very high. It’s a game we’re looking forward to because it’s our first game back at Tynecastle for a number of weeks.”