ROBBIE NEILSON insists table-topping Hearts no have plans to sign a new central midfielder – even though Prince Buaben and Morgaro Gomis have been heavily relied upon while not at peak fitness.
With Miguel Pallardo having missed the start of the season with an Achilles problem, the former Dundee United pair have had to play all 270 minutes of Hearts’ three Premiership games so far despite having disrupted pre-season campaigns of their own.
Sean McKirdy, the diminutive 17-year-old, is yet to get off the bench in any of the Premiership games, while the highly-regarded Angus Beith, 19, has been injured, and Kenny Anderson appears to have slipped right out of the equation.
Although they look short of established back-up in the engine room, Hearts’ management team are confident they can muddle through with what they’ve got until Pallardo returns towards the end of the month. The Jambos have been linked with Bulgarian midfielder Milen Gamakov, but the 21-year-old is believed to be outwith their price range.
“We’re not thinking about bringing in anybody for that area at the moment,” head coach Neilson told the Evening News. “We’ve got McKirdy there who trains with us and I know I can put him in if I need to.
“Pallardo has just had the moon boot off and he’ll have a week’s rehab, then he’ll start training with us at the end of next week. He did about half of pre-season but he’s such a good player that he doesn’t need to be 100 per cent fit to come back into the team. We won’t rush him but hopefully he won’t be too far away.”
Anderson arrived at Tynecastle in early February but has managed only four starts for the club and hasn’t been involved in the match-day 18 for any of the three league games this season.
“With the boys we’ve got, it’s just difficult for Kenny to get into the team at the moment,” said Neilson. “He works hard in training and he’s just unfortunate that we’re okay in that area at the moment.”
Neilson, meanwhile, praised Billy King and Sam Nicholson for their lively displays against Motherwell on Wednesday but explained that he will continue to rotate his batch of young attackers in order to maintain sharpness.
“Billy’s a top player and he was great the other night – he looks like he’s carried on from last season,” said the head coach. “Nicholson is also looking sharp. He’s another young kid who did well last season and he’s stepping up to the plate again this year. I’m really pleased with him.
“Billy, Sam, [Jamie] Walker, [Gavin] Reilly and [Gary] Oliver will all get rotated. You can’t expect those guys to play at the top level every single week. They’re still young and developing. We need to make sure that when they do come in they’re at 100 per cent.”
Neilson will make more changes for tomorrow’s trip to Ross County, with defender Igor Rossi among those struggling with injury, and he views the clash with Jim McIntyre’s side as the toughest yet for his table-topping team. “I saw them the other night and Jim and Billy [Dodds] have obviously done a lot of good work recruitment-wise,” said Neilson. “We’ve only had two days prep and, with the way they play and the venue, I think this will be the toughest game we’ve had so far.”