Robbie Neilson: Only win over Saints will do for Hearts

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, left, with assistant Stevie Crawford
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, left, with assistant Stevie Crawford
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Robbie Neilson believes three points are essential for Hearts against St Johnstone today before the biggest week of their season.

After international fortnight, the club enters a crucial six-day period when they face Celtic and Inverness away, plus Aberdeen at home.

Head coach Neilson wants to approach that week with real momentum, which a fifth successive win this afternoon would bring. Hearts have won each of their last four matches against Kilmarnock, Inverness, Partick Thistle and Dundee without conceding a single goal.

Igor Rossi remains doubtful due to a groin injury, with Jordan McGhee expected to continue at left-back in his absence. Callum Paterson is still sidelined by a torn shoulder ligament so Liam Smith should again play at right-back.

Neilson stressed the need to enter the international break on a high by beating St Johnstone, particularly in view of what lies ahead. “This is one we want to win. We play today, then we get two weeks’ rest and then comes the real key point of the season for us,” he said.

“We play Celtic at Parkhead, then we’re away to Inverness on the Tuesday night and then we play Aberdeen at home on the Friday. That’s three massive games inside six days, two of them away from home. We need to get three points against St Johnstone and go from there.

“We believe we’re progressing here and we keep wanting the same things. We’ve got the benefit of it in the last couple of weeks with four wins and four clean sheets. They have been tough games but we’ve managed to come through them with maximum points.

“We had that five-day period [last month] when we lost the Hibs game and we lost against Dundee United. That was always going to happen in a season. You aren’t going to go through the campaign winning every single game. We had a wee sticky patch but we’ve managed to get through it. That’s credit to the players, they’ve shown good spirit.

“Nobody likes losing games. You want to win and go as high as you can. The main thing in football coaching is to be consistent. If you believe in what you’re doing, keep doing it. When you start losing faith in what you’re doing, that’s when you’ll have a problem.”