Robbie Neilson expects a fully-fit Hearts squad to report to Riccarton for pre-season training next week. The only absentee could be midfielder Perry Kitchen, who may still be involved in the Copa America with the USA.
Training is due to resume on Wednesday ahead of the Edinburgh club’s first Europa League qualifier at the end of the month. Full-back Callum Paterson and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, both on international duty with Scotland last week, are due to report as normal.
Brazilian defender Igor Rossi has rested the groin injury which caused him to end last season prematurely. Similarly, winger Jamie Walker has had time to recover from a knee complaint. Neilson hopes his squad are ready to hit the ground running.
“Everybody should be there, which would be great,” said Neilson. “I took Walker out early at the end of last season to give him a rest because he had a problem with his knee. It’s the same with Igor, who had a groin problem. Igor probably could have played on but, with such a short break, we decided to rest him. The two of them will be fine, though.
“We’ve had Callum and Jack away with Scotland and Perry away at the Copa America. Hopefully they get through everything and come back fit. Jack didn’t play a lot of football last season. Callum had a good break when he had six weeks out with his shoulder injury. Perry’s season finished last November and then he started with us in February, so I don’t expect him to be burnt out. The break will have done him good at that time.”
The USA’s final Copa America group match is against Paraguay in the early hours of tomorrow morning. They will advance to the tournament’s knockout phase provided they avoid defeat. Should that happen, Kitchen would not be back in Edinburgh for pre-season training starting. He could even miss the start of the Europa League qualifiers if his country reach the latter stages.
“It depends when they get knocked out and what their schedule is. Perry had a good two and a half months rest so we’ll see how he is, but he could come straight back in and be ready to go,” said Neilson.