Hearts boss plans a mini pre-season to boost fitness

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Robbie Neilson today revealed plans to put Hearts through a mini pre-season training programme early next month.

The Edinburgh club have a free weekend on Saturday, November 1, and coaching staff are preparing a rigorous schedule to maintain fitness levels.

Scottish Cup third-round ties take place that day, but neither Hearts nor Hibs are involved as they finished within the top 16 league positions in Scotland last season. Both Edinburgh clubs enter the competition at the fourth-round stage, which is on the last weekend in November.

Neilson intends to make good use of the free week by working to increase his players’ fitness levels. He has already introduced double and even triple training sessions this season and revealed that a miniature pre-season is in the offing.

“We play Alloa this weekend. We play Dumbarton after that, and then we’ve got Hibs after that. That’s three games to go and then we get a wee break,” he told the Evening News.

“We’re going to have a mini pre-season during the break, where we get the players back up to speed. We’ll have a break for a couple of days and then we’ll be back into it again. We work hard every day but we just need to keep their fitness up to the levels we want.

“We aren’t in the third round of the cup so that gives us a bit of time to work with the players. There are still three games to go before then and that’s three games we have to win.”

As revealed last week in the Evening News, Hearts have spent time on Alloa’s astroturf to prepare for Saturday’s match at the Indodrill Stadium.

Neilson took his squad to Clackmannanshire for a training session yesterday to help them adjust to the surface.

Hearts paid £240 for a two-hour stint on the pitch, which is the going rate for community hire. They were due to train on Spartans’ Ainslie Park astroturf today.