Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson stressed today that his players are not in danger playing back-to-back matches on astroturf at Queen of the South and Alloa.
Artificial surfaces can affect a player’s joints but Neilson is confident his squad will handle the pitches at Palmerston Park on Saturday and Recreation Park the following weekend.
Preparation for these next two games has been thorough, with Hearts using Spartans’ astroturf at Ainslie Park this week as well as their own plastic pitch at Riccarton. Next week, Neilson will take his team to train on Alloa’s pitch before they travel there on the Saturday.
The head coach does not envisage any injuries to occur as a result of playing on astroturf. Regular exposure to the surfaces can affect knees, hips and other joints. However, because Hearts spend most of their time on grass, Neilson is not expecting these next two games to produce any untoward problems.
“It does still affect players’ joints, although astroturf now is better than it used to be,” said Neilson, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “If you’re playing on it regularly or training on it regularly, it will affect you.
“I don’t think a one-off game or two games will make much difference to our boys. We’re more trying to get used to how the ball runs differently and the fact that the flow of the game is different as well.
“We just need to keep an eye on things. We’ve been training down at Spartans and we’ll use the astro at the academy as well over the next 24 hours. Next week we’ll go to Alloa to train and we’ll use Spartans again. Astroturf is a different surface so you need to be ready for it. You get a different game on it.”