Hearts boss relieved by stars’ lack of international action

Arnaud Djoum was an unused substitute in Cameroons World Cup qualifier against Zambia
Arnaud Djoum was an unused substitute in Cameroons World Cup qualifier against Zambia
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Robbie Neilson admits being relieved that key Hearts players haven’t been overworked during the international break.

Arnaud Djoum and Faycal Rherras are due to return to Riccarton today and should be fresh for Monday’s league game away to Hamilton.

Rherras needed time to recover from a bout of malaria and Neilson was concerned at him travelling to Morocco on international duty. He didn’t play in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast and managed 45 minutes in last night’s friendly with Togo.

Djoum was an unused substitute in Cameroon’s World Cup qualifier against Zambia at the weekend.

Callum Paterson and Jack Hamilton also returned fit from Scotland’s qualifier against England. Paterson played the last 11 minutes of the 3-0 defeat at Wembley as a substitute, whilst Hamilton was unused.

“It does help us that they didn’t play because, for the African guys, there’s the travelling aspect as well,” said Neilson.

“The good thing for Rherras is that he’s hopefully had a little bit of a break because he’s been struggling with his illness recently.

“Arnaud has been away as well and didn’t play. The two of them are back in Edinburgh today because they needed time to travel back.

“Callum hasn’t been overplayed at least.

“For him, it was just gaining that experience and getting to play at Wembley. He’ll be disappointed he didn’t start the game but he’s still a young kid and he’s still developing as well.

“Being with Scotland helps his development and his maturity as well.

“You go into an international squad and you see top players, how they prepare and how they perform.

“You’re with boys who play in the Premier League in England playing against huge teams.”