Hearts will be raring to go, insists Neilson

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson
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Robbie Neilson is sure Hearts will hit the ground running when pre-season training begins at Riccarton on Wednesday.

The head coach expects his players to return fit and fresh and ready to begin a European assault in just over two weeks’ time.

The first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round takes place on June 30 and Hearts’ preparations are about to accelerate. Players will report to the club’s training base on the outskirts of Edinburgh on Wednesday morning and will then be put through an intense fitness programme.

Neilson told the Evening News that he doesn’t expect anyone to be out of shape because the days of players letting themselves go when a season ends are long gone.

“Fitness won’t be a problem, it never is these days because boys look after themselves,” he explained. “It’s just a case of getting back into it and finding our form again. We had a decent ending to the season in the last couple of games so we want to carry that through.

“We’ll have the backing of the fans after selling more than 13,500 season tickets, which is fantastic for us. Hopefully we’ll get a sellout for the first European game and that would give us a great start.

“When you finish up at the end of a season, you have a couple of weeks off and then you’re desperate to get back involved again, but I don’t expect to have the full squad in.

“The deadline for registering players for the first European game is June 20 so we wouldn’t expect to have the full squad in by then. I’ll be hoping to get two, maybe three at the most and then wait from there to see what else happens.”

Irish striker Connor Sammon and Belgian-born full-back Faycal Rherras are expected to be confirmed as new signings this week.