First Team

Robbie on Staggies, awards and squad fitness

28th April 2022

Robbie Neilson says he isn’t surprised by Ross County’s sparkling season in the Premiership, as he targets another post-split win at Tynecastle on Saturday.

The Staggies arrive in Gorgie at the weekend looking to continue their push for European football, an objective few tipped County to be chasing after a ten-game winless run at the start of the campaign.
The manager isn’t surprised at all, highlighting the impressive work done in the Highlands by Malky Mackay.
“Even when they weren’t doing great at the start of the season, you could tell they were a very good team,” he told the media in his press conference.
“Malky’s used his experience to get a level of consistency. A lot of managers would change everything when they weren’t winning but he stuck with his system.
“They’ve got a strong, solid team. A good defence, energetic midfield, a target man, and wingers who take on their man. I’m not surprised at all at how good they’ve been.”
Ross County always provide a stern test when they come to the capital, but the manager was able to share some positive injury news ahead of the weekend.
“We’ve got a few back: Kingsley and Halliday will be available for the weekend, and we’ve got a few more who are a week or two away. It might be a bit too soon for Devlin, so we’ll take him out and give him a little bit more time to recover,” he said.
“We’re working towards having as many back fit for the cup final. As it stands, only Baningime will be one who will be out.”
It’s award seasons in Scottish football, as the 2021/22 campaign draws to a close, with Robbie shortlisted for the SFWA and PFA Manager of the Year awards.
Although delighted with the nomination, he insists the bulk of the credit goes to the players on the park.
“It’s nice to have but at the end of the day, it comes down to what the players do on the pitch – they get the awards for managers and staff,” he added.
“Very nice to be nominated but we’ve still got big steps forward to take this season.
“I actually voted for Dick Campbell. I think he’s had a great season and they still have time to make it an incredible one. To do that with a part-time team is remarkable. Dick’s great, I speak with him often.
“We’ve got young Chris Hamilton out there on loan, so I speak to him now and then to see how he’s getting on. We’re already talking about sending players to Arbroath next season because he’s got tons of experience and he’s a great character as well.”
You can catch Robbie’s full pre-match press conference on Hearts TV.