First Team

Rotation is key

25th August 2014

Danny Wilson praises Robbie Neilson for judging balance of squad right as well-rested team defeat Raith.

Hearts captain Danny Wilson insisted Robbie Neilson's decision to rest the majority of the first team for last Wednesday's Petrofac Training Cup defeat to Livingston was totally justified after Saturday's thumping of Raith Rovers.

The head coach made a raft of changes from the side that beat Hibs, giving debuts to eight players along the way, and retained just two of them - Jordan McGhee and hat-trick hero James Keatings - for the match at Stark's Park.

Despite coming in for criticism from some quarters, the skipper was pragmatic on the issue, claiming that the 4-0 victory in Kirkcaldy proved the correct decision had been made by the back room staff.

"Obviously the fans want to see us win every game, but the manager has said all along his job is also to develop players in the youth teams", said Danny. "We have some really talented youngsters, and a much bigger squad than last season. I was at the game, and we were well in it until the second goal which was a bit of a sucker punch to be honest.

"Robbie felt they deserved their chance to play, and some of them might get another chance on Tuesday at Stenhousemuir too. The league is our priority, the number one objective is to get out of this league this season, so I think today's win shows it was the right decision."

James Keatings made his first league start for the club in the victory and showed fans why he was such a highly rated youngster coming through the ranks at Celtic with an excellent hat-trick, including a beautiful free kick from 25 yards.

Danny revealed the team were delighted for the striker who, up until this week, hadn't really had the chance to make the impact in a maroon jersey that he was so keen to do, after Osman Sow's red card against Hibs in the derby victory last week.

"We're all delighted for James. He's had to bide his time on the bench, and he's not had the chances to play that he'd have liked, but he came in today. He showed his qualities, not just with the hat-trick, but with his all-round play, which was excellent too.

"We thought we'd miss Osman but it just shows we've got players who have a great attitude that can come in and take their chances when they get them."

Lastly, the former Liverpool starlet confirmed that the squad knew winning the league would more than likely come down to which side could pick up more points away from the media spotlight and television coverage of matches between the 'big three' clubs in the division, the Jambos getting their first real taste of lower league football after the circus surrounding the opening two fixtures - and resulting victories - against two of their oldest and fiercest rivals to kick off the season.

"We can't win the league just by beating Rangers and Hibs. We need to come to places like this and win them too. We're not always going to play well, we might not always win and we'll need to grind out results at some point, this is only a good start, nothing more."