Hearts choose St Andrews for pre-season

Jack Hamilton chats to Hearts coach Stevie Crawford

Jack Hamilton chats to Hearts coach Stevie Crawford

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HEARTS will spend pre-season in St Andrews this year after deciding against a trip abroad. Robbie Neilson and his squad will train on the Fife coast for a week from June 19-26 and hope to organise some bounce matches.

Coaching staff want to make the most of the two weeks available before they enter the Europa League first qualifying round. Pre-season training starts on June 15 and Hearts’ first European tie is June 30.

Neilson explained that travelling to a foreign country may not be the best way to use what little time he has to prepare his squad. For that reason, Hearts will stay in Scotland and work intensely for two weeks to get ready for European competition.

“We come back on June 15 and we go up to St Andrews on June 19 for a week,” Neilson told the Evening News. “We were going to go abroad but the pre-season is so tight. You end up spending a day travelling and a day coming back, so you miss two days.

“We might end up travelling on the Wednesday before our first European game on the Thursday. I just felt it would be better to stay here and do our pre-season training in Scotland.

“We’ll organise some bounce games but nothing major. I think they will be mostly closed-door but we’ve still to finalise those things. The first real game will be the European tie.”

Staying local would also make it easier for Neilson and Craig Levein, Hearts’ director of football, to finalise new signings. They hope to bring in three or four new recruits and may be required to travel back and forth to Edinburgh for talks with potential targets.