Neilson: Hearts may need to alter tactics

Robbnie Neilson with his November  Manager of the Month award. Picture: SNS

Robbnie Neilson with his November Manager of the Month award. Picture: SNS

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Robbie Neilson is preparing to change Hearts’ tactics against Cowdenbeath tomorrow because he expects a scrappy game on a tight and heavy pitch.

Passing football has been a feature of the campaign so far but Neilson hinted that his players may need to be more direct at Central Park.

Hearts head to Fife seeking to maintain their unbeaten league record at one of Scotland’s most uninspiring venues. Neilson explained today that flowing football might not be possible given the inclement weather this week, which is likely to leave the Central Park pitch soggy and muddy.

Soufian El Hassnaoui is in contention to start the match up front alongside James Keatings, which would provide a physical presence up front if required. Neilson stressed the need for his team to fight and scrap their way through the match if it becomes a battle.

“The tactics might change a wee bit,” he told the Evening News. “We will still try and pass the ball but we need to have other options as well. We might need to do things a wee bit differently. We will make sure we’re ready for how they will play as well.

“Soufian is fine, he’s trained for the last few days so he’ll be back involved again tomorrow.” Asked if El Hassnaoui will be in the starting line-up, Neilson replied: “Possibly. I’ve still not made my mind up exactly what the personnel will be but I’ve got a rough idea.

“It looks like the pitch will be heavy given how the weather is just now. I can’t see it drying out too much before kick-off so it will be difficult. We need to go down there and play. At the end of the day, it’s about getting three points.

“If you get them by winning 1-0 with a last-minute goal, it’s just the same as going there and winning 3-0 or 4-0. It doesn’t matter. As long as we get three points and get away up the road.

“Yes, we want to go and play nice football and dominate games but there are going to be times when it won’t be like that. We need to make sure we do what we did against Alloa. We fought and fought and got our rewards at the end of it with a 1-0 win.”