Robbie Neilson: Hearts midfield getting stronger

Arnaud Djoum has arrived at Hearts and strengthened the side. Pic: SNS

Arnaud Djoum has arrived at Hearts and strengthened the side. Pic: SNS

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Hearts’ midfield is growing stronger each week following the arrival of Arnaud Djoum and key players returning from injury, according to head coach Robbie Neilson.

Djoum received praise for his debut performance as a substitute in the 0-0 Premiership draw between the clubs at Celtic Park on Saturday – the club Hearts will face in next month’s League Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle.

Saturday’s draw in Glasgow brought a great deal of satisfaction for Hearts. Neilson admitted he was pleased with how his midfield competed against the league champions. Miguel Pallardo looked fitter on his second start of the season following an Achilles complaint. Morgaro Gomis also appeared stronger after his own injury problems and a recent family bereavement.

Neilson believes his midfield is nearing full strength ahead of this Saturday’s home league match with Kilmarnock. The addition of the Belgian Djoum on a short-term contract until January brings an extra option.

“He’s played in big games before,” Neilson told the Evening News. “He played in the top league in Holland for years, then he was in Turkey and he’s been in Poland as well. I had no issues with putting him on at Parkhead. I thought he did very well, defended well for us and saw out the game.

“The midfield will come together. Morgaro missed part of pre-season with a thigh problem. Miguel missed all of pre-season with an Achilles problem and he’s only just back. It’s going to take a bit of time. The pleasing thing is I can look at the bench and I’ve got Buaben and Djoum, plus Reilly and Swanson for the more attacking places.

“Billy King wasn’t on the bench on Saturday because he’s got a rib injury, so we’ve still got him to come back. In defence, Jordan McGhee and Alim Ozturk were there so it’s a strong bench I’ve got. That lets you make changes if you need to.”