Hearts boss glad Sam Nicholson will be spared tough schedule

Sam Nicholson wasn't included in the Scotland Under-21 squad. Pic: SNS

Sam Nicholson wasn't included in the Scotland Under-21 squad. Pic: SNS

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Sam Nicholson will benefit from a much-needed rest during the international break after being omitted from the Scotland Under-21 squad. That is the view of Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, who warned against overworking the winger.

Nicholson and his Tynecastle colleague John Souttar have both been left out of the Scotland Under-21 squad by new coach Scot Gemmill. Hibs striker Jason Cummings is another notable absentee. All three are amongst those too old for the next European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign.

Neilson admitted Hearts are content to see Nicholson recuperate after Friday night’s league match at Motherwell. The 21-year-old was left out of the Hearts team earlier this month because Neilson felt he needed a rest after travelling to Ukraine with Scotland Under-21s.

Now, with Gemmill’s players about to embark upon away trips to Iceland and Macedonia, Neilson is not too disappointed that Nicholson will get a break.

“I think it’s important with players like Sam that we look after them,” he told the Evening News. “He’s been in fantastic form, lighting games up for us with his pace and creating chances with his ability. It’s important we don’t burn him out.

“Our players came back early for pre-season because we had European games and they’ve been working really hard right through the summer. Sam being out of the Under-21 squad will give him a bit of a break and he’ll be ready for the Dundee game in two weeks.”

Billy King, on loan from Hearts to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, has also been overlooked by Gemmill. However, Jordan McGhee keeps his Scotland Under-21 place after joining Middlesbrough on loan from Hearts. Liam Smith, currently on an emergency one-month loan at Raith Rovers, is also included