Juwon Oshaniwa backed to shine in Hearts return

Robbie Neilson, right, has put his faith in Juwon Oshaniwa. Pic: SNS

Robbie Neilson, right, has put his faith in Juwon Oshaniwa. Pic: SNS

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Juwon Oshaniwa is poised to return to the Hearts team at Inverness with the full backing of head coach Robbie Neilson. The Nigerian internationalist was left out of the last three matches after some indifferent performances, and Neilson feels the break has served him well.

He is expected to line up at left-back for today’s lunchtime kick-off – providing the match passes a 7.30am pitch inspection – with Jordan McGhee also stepping into defence. Igor Rossi and Blazej Augustyn are both suspended so the visitors must reshuffle their back line.

Oshaniwa was red carded for a foolish swipe at Inverness forward Tobi Sho-Silva last time Hearts visited the Caledonian Stadium in September. Neilson is confident the African has learned his lesson from that incident and is now far more accustomed to Scottish football.

“He knows what happened last time and it’s done now. I don’t need to reiterate it,” said the head coach. “He knows what to do now and he’s settled himself down. He’s starting to acclimatise to the demands. He’s had a chance to step out, build himself back up and then get back in again. He’s been doing that in training so I have no issues with putting him into the team.”

Three consecutive clean sheets have been welcomed by Neilson as he and his players head for the Highlands. “That’s what we’re looking for, to be strong defensively. This is a chance for players to come in to that defence,” he explained.

“Jordan is a young boy, but even when he’s out of the team he trains well and he’s always professional. Oshaniwa is the same, he’s an experienced player. There is never a lull in their training, they’re always ready for a Saturday. They no they need to train hard to be ready so that they can take their opportunity when it comes.”