Hearts already stepping up their fitness

Robbie Neilson is back at Riccarton. Pic: SNS

Robbie Neilson is back at Riccarton. Pic: SNS

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ROBBIE NEILSON returned to Riccarton this morning to continue a close-season training programme for young Hearts players.

The head coach was in Spain on holiday last week but is back to oversee compulsory sessions for youngsters which are also being utilised by first-team members.

Players including Billy King, Jack Hamilton, Brad McKay and Jason Holt are using Riccarton’s facilities now the season has ended. Neilson and his coaching team are attending the training ground each day, aside from their own summer holiday, to help keep players ticking over.

The sessions are primarily for academy players but are open to any member of the Hearts playing staff. “For the younger ones, it’s compulsory. So the guys in the under-20 squad are coming in three days a week,” explained Neilson. “They are allowed a two-week break to go on holiday somewhere. For the older ones, it’s optional. You get a few of them coming in.

“Billy King has been in, Jason Holt has been in, Jack Hamilton was in and Brad McKay as well, even though he’s leaving. The facilities are still open for them. You get boys who are away on holiday and will come in next week or the week after. Generally, they go away and after about two or three weeks they get bored sitting about the house and they want to come back in.

“We’ve just made sure the training ground is open for them to come in and train. Myself, Jack Ross and Stevie Crawford have all been in, and the sports scientists have been there too. The coaches have their holidays as well but there are always a few of them around.

“It’s important the players are ready for next season. I don’t want them to go away and down tools for six or seven weeks. They have to make sure they keep themselves ticking over for when they come back for pre-season. That way, the hard sessions won’t be such a big thing for them. They all understand that and thankfully they’ve got the facilities here to come and do it instead of having to do it themselves.

“At Hearts, the facilities are all there and everything is kitted out. The gym is there, the pitches are there, so the boys just need to turn up. The kitman is in right through the summer so there is always kit there for them as well.”