Keeping Hearts midfielders happy is tough – Neilson

Danny Swanson, far left, and Sean McKirdy, far right, are just two players fighting for a place in Hearts' midfield

Danny Swanson, far left, and Sean McKirdy, far right, are just two players fighting for a place in Hearts' midfield

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ROBBIE NEILSON admits keeping all Hearts’ midfielders happy is a difficult task since they achieved full fitness.

Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben, Miguel Pallardo, Danny Swanson, Arnaud Djoum and Sean McKirdy are all fighting for a starting place and head coach Neilson is having to manage the situation carefully.

With only three, and occasionally two, midfielders selected depending on the formation, some of the aforementioned are finding regular game time hard to come by. Djoum and McKirdy find themselves at the back of the queue at the moment, whilst Pallardo has only played twice this season after recovering from an Achilles injury.

Gomis and Buaben have been selected most often, with Swanson in contention to start against former club Dundee United on Sunday. Neilson conceded that the strength of midfield competition now gives him a weekly headache when it comes to picking a starting line-up.

“It’s not easy because they all want to play now they’re over their injuries,” he said. “At the start of the season, we had Pallardo out, Prince and Morgaro had wee niggles so Sean McKirdy came in and did well. Since then, we’ve brought in Djoum, Pallardo is back and everyone is fully fit so it’s a really competitive area for us.

“It probably one of the more difficult ones to manage in terms of keeping them all happy. It’s up to them to compete for a place. Some of them will play at times and sit out at times. That’s part of football when there’s a big squad and I think they realise that.”

Hearts are without right-back Callum Paterson and striker Gavin Reilly at Tannadice due to suspension. Jordan McGhee is favourite to deputise for Paterson in defence. Captain Alim Ozturk is out until mid-November after undergoing a second hernia operation. Striker Soufian El Hassnaoui is still rehabilitating following a knee ligament injury sustained in July.

• TWO Hearts matches in December have been rescheduled for live television coverage. The Ladbrokes Premiership game away to Aberdeen on Saturday, December 12 will now kick-off at 12.30pm and be broadcast live on Sky Sports. Celtic’s visit to Tynecastle on Saturday, December 26, has been moved to Sunday, December 27, with a 2.00pm kick-off. That game will also be shown live on Sky Sports.