Robbie Neilson today warned Hearts they must handle Forfar’s direct and aggressive playing style if they want to progress in tonight’s League Cup tie.
The head coach is demanding the right attitude from his players at Station Park and explained that the League One leaders will be in their faces right from kick-off.
Neilson, pictured right, watched Forfar last week in their Petrofac Cup tie against Dunfermline and noted their competitive approach. He expects the same this evening in the League Cup second round and ordered Hearts to stand up to the challenge.
“Forfar are direct. They play up to [Chris] Templeman a lot and try to feed off him,” said Neilson “They’ve signed Lewis Allan on loan from Hibs. Whether he plays or not I don’t know, it will depend on Hibs and whether they want him cup-tied or not. We have to deal with that direct ball. We have to deal with them pressing us aggressively at the start of the game. This is a cup final for them. We’re going up to Station Park in front of a decent crowd and Forfar are coming off the back of some decent results.
“They’re sitting pretty in the league and they got a decent result on Saturday against Stenhousemuir. It’s important we go up there and start the game right and have the right attitude.”
Several young Tynecastle players could be involved tonight but Neilson still intends fielding a strong line-up. “McKirdy, McGhee, McHattie, Liam Smith, Oliver, King – these guys are desperate for game time but we want to go up there and win so we need to be strong,” he continued.
“It’s important we utilise the squad and I’ll do that. I’ll make sure guys get game time and we also have an eye on Saturday’s league game with Hamilton. Tonight is a game we want to go and win and I expect us to go up there and win it. If we do things properly, prepare properly and start the game properly, then we should win.”
Neilson added that Hearts’ place atop the Scottish Premiership is not a distraction for the players as they refuse to look too far ahead.
“The boys just concentrate on the next day and the next game. The focus now is Forfar. Once that game is out the way, then we’ll start looking at Hamilton.
“You can’t start looking at where you are in the league or predict where you’re going to be in ten weeks time.
“You just have to make sure you’re ready for the next game.”