Hearts have made plans to shackle Christian Nade, with Robbie Neilson wary of the fact the Raith Rovers striker will feel he has a point to prove against his old club at Stark’s Park today.
The big French striker will come up against Hearts for the first time since an underwhelming three-year spell in Edinburgh came to an end in 2010.
Neilson was reunited with his old Hearts team-mate during their time together at East Fife last season and believes that the Jambos will today encounter a far leaner, more focused player than the one that turned out at Tynecastle.
Hearts’ head coach knows the reinvigorated Nade can pose his side a threat but has a specific plan to deal with the big striker. He said: “We’ve been focusing on how to deal with him a lot this week. But we’ve got physical guys that know the game and should be fine.”
When Nade joined Hearts in 2007 there was initial excitement amongst the Gorgie faithful. However, for a variety of reasons, he showed only fleeting glimpses of his talent and left with just ten goals from 89 appearances. The 29-year-old has been a nomad since, turning out for teams in Cyprus and Thailand before returning to Scotland with East Fife before moving on to Dundee and now Raith.
Neilson said: “I know from speaking to Christian at East Fife that he’s got a point to prove. I was here with him for a couple of years so I know what he’s like and I know he’s got himself in good condition. If you get the ball at his feet he’s very very difficult to play against. In the close season he’s worked really hard and he’s getting the rewards now.”
Neilson is aware that sides like Raith will see Hearts as a big scalp and as such could raise their game today.
He said: “It’s a big game for them but we’ve sold our allocation already. Our fans have been fantastic and it’ll lift Raith.
“When you go to these places and there’s no atmosphere, it can be the hardest thing to lift yourself. We’ll have fans there backing us fully so we’ll work hard, do things properly and hopefully have enough to get the result.”