Robbie ready to kick on

27 December 2022

The Jambos make the journey to McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night, a ground in which they often struggle at, something the manager is fully aware of.

 “It is always a difficult place to go,” he said. “Historically, we’ve not had a great record there and that is something we need to try and change.

“In comparison to last season, it looks like they have more goals and legs in their team. They’re sitting just below us in the league, and we need to make sure we start kicking on now and picking up the points.

“It’s a game we are really looking forward to and one that we want to try take three points in and that can take us into the derby on Monday.”

The club confirmed on Monday that club captain, Craig Gordon had suffered a double leg break during the weekend draw at Dundee United, but Neilson confirmed the skipper is already looking at his return timescale.

“It’s devastating for everyone,” the gaffer added. “I have known Craig for a long time personally. He is a fighter. He has fought back from a serious injury with his knee previously and I expect him to do the same this time.

“I have been up to see him a couple of times in the hospital already. He is coming out today and he is already talking about timescales and trying to get himself back, so that shows the nature of his character, and we will do everything we can to help him.

“It was a real horrible incident and a really difficult night, but he is a fighter and I’m sure he’ll get back.

“He is probably the best player Hearts have ever produced. He has come through the academy, played at the highest level and on the international stage. He is also a great guy, but I know what he’s like and he’ll be back stronger and fitter than ever.”

Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland netted his 15th goal of the season at Tannadice and is edging ever closer to becoming the first Hearts player to score 20 goals in a single season since John Robertson in 1992.

“I played with Robbo towards the end of his career,” explained Neilson. “He was an unbelievable finisher and an unbelievable Hearts man. For somebody to match his goals tally over a season is outstanding because that record has been intact for a number of years.

“I speak with Robbo now and again and he is desperate for Lawrence to do it because if we have a striker who is scoring 20 goals, it gives us a real chance of progressing.”

Finally, the manager confirmed that Hearts will be without Stephen Kingsley and Craig Halkett for the trip to Perth.

“We had Stephen Humphrys training today. He probably won’t make the game on Wednesday though. Stephen Kingsley has his concussion, and it looks like Halkett will be out as well. We have a good squad here though and I’m sure the guys will step in and do well.”