Robbie Neilson: I’ll pick Hearts team, not Levein

Robbie Neilson, right, joined Craig Levein and Ann Budge at Tynecastle today
Robbie Neilson, right, joined Craig Levein and Ann Budge at Tynecastle today
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New Hearts first-team coach Robbie Neilson today insisted he will pick the team next season and not director of football Craig Levein.

Neilson was promoted from his role as Under-20s coach yesterday on a dramatic day at Tynecastle which saw manager Gary Locke and coaches Billy Brown and Alan Combe released along with several first-team players.

Following her takeover of the club, chairwoman Ann Budge immediately installed Levein to oversee football matters although he will allow Neilson ultimate responsibility in team selection matters.

Neilson said: “I will pick the team. When Craig spoke to me on Sunday night that was one of the questions I asked him and he assured me I would pick the team. That’s the reason I’m here.”

On the decision not to renew Locke’s contract, Levein said: “Trust me, yesterday was a hugely difficult day. I have got a lot of respect for Gary Locke and a lot of time for him as a person. The last thing I wanted to do was tell Gary Locke there wasn’t a role for him in this new structure. But ultimately that is the fact.”

The changes on Monday also saw goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill, Dylan McGowan, Mark Ridgers and Callum Tapping depart while Ryan Stevenson’s departure is expected to be confirmed after the club invoked a clause to reduce his wages following their relegation.