Miguel Pallardo will get a gentle introduction to Scottish football this evening when he plays his first match for Hearts.
The Spaniard will feature for the club’s under-20s against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Pallardo has not been risked at first-team level since arriving at Tynecastle earlier this month on a contract until the end of the season. He has been fighting a thigh injury and coaching staff want to ease him into competitive action gradually.
Tonight, the midfielder will be given game time against Kilmarnock Under-20s (7pm) to assess his progress. “I don’t want to push him too much,” explained head coach Robbie Neilson, who had hoped to use Pallardo against Livingston on Sunday, but then decided not to risk the 28-year-old.
“He had a problem with his thigh and the thigh is one of these things you need to be really sure about before you start the high intensity stuff because it can just pop.
“He’s trained over the weekend so he’ll get a bit of the under-20 game tonight and we’ll see how he does. If his thigh is okay, then we can start pushing him a bit more.”
Hearts’ first-team squad will take to astroturf over the next couple of days as Neilson readies them for Saturday’s trip to play Queen of the South at Palmerston Park.
Training sessions will switch from Riccarton to Spartans’ Ainslie Park to prepare for the artificial surface in Dumfries.
“It’s a massive difference so we need to prepare properly,” he continued. “We’ll go down to Spartans and use the astroturf down there to help us get ready.
“We’ll probably spend Wednesday and Thursday training on astro and then come back on to the grass on Friday just to take it a bit easier before the game on Saturday.
“I was at Queen of the South’s game against Cowdenbeath last Saturday and, although they lost 2-1, they dominated the second half. They are a strong, intelligent team.
“They have a lot of experience all over the pitch, with guys who have played a lot of games in either the Premiership or Championship.
“There’s Derek Lyle, James Fowler, Chris Higgins, Andy Dowie – players who have played at the top level.
“We know it’s going to be really difficult.”