The Hearts squad returned for pre-season today, with head coach Robbie Neilson explaining that all full-time players at the club will train together as a unit, regardless of age.
In the past, the first-team have generally worked separately from the Under-20s and other youth teams at Riccarton. However, with the squad youngster-heavy and the search continuing for Neilson’s replacement as Under-20s coach, it has been decided that the most efficient way forward for the club is for all professionals on Hearts’ books to operate as a group.
“Because we’ve got such a small squad, the plan all along has been for all the full-timers – the youngest will be 17 – to train together in pre-season,” said Neilson. “Apart from when we have to split up for games, the majority of the training will be as a group. That will continue throughout the season.”
Neilson and his assistant Stevie Crawford will be leading training every day, with new player-coach Neil Alexander looking after the goalkeepers. Sports scientist John Hill will also play a big part in ensuring the players are able to operate at their optimum after he stepped up to replace Dave Sykes, who left last week after three years with the club.
Outlining the plan for the first few days of pre-season, Neilson said: “We’ll all muck in together and the sports science boys will have a big input as well. The first two days will be testing and bits and bobs to get them going.
“On Saturday, we’ll be on the field for a wee bit of work and Monday will be the main day when we really go at it.”
Hearts will then hope to step up their preparations next week with a couple of friendlies in Lancashire, which are awaiting confirmation.
• FORMER Hearts defender Ismael Bouzid is currently on trial with Rangers, the Gorgie side’s Championship rivals.