In a warning to his squad over diet and nutrition, Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson says anyone not looking after their bodies properly will not play at Tynecastle long-term.
Modern sports science and fitness technology help monitor footballers’ condition, but Neilson stressed today that players must take full responsibility for their own lifestyles.
Diets at Celtic have hit the headlines recently after manager Ronny Deila banned chips and fizzy drinks at the club’s Lennoxtown training complex. Neilson has not banned anything at Hearts and is happy with how his players conduct themselves. However, he did caution that anyone letting their condition slip would quickly be found out and moved on.
“We use a sports scientist, John Hill, regularly and he sets the plan up for the intensity of the training,” explained Neilson. “He will give me a month’s review of what he thinks we should be doing. We’ll have reviews with players about body fat and lifestyle and what we feel we need to work on. We’re always in contact with them about what we want to do to try and improve them. We’re not here to make life difficult for them. My job is to make them better players.
“You didn’t have the likes of the nutritionist and sports scientists back in the day. There was more responsibility on yourself, but it’s still the responsibility of the player. We can give them all the information we can, we can speak to them and do this, do that, but it’s up to them to look after themselves. It’s their career. It’s their life and their ambition to play. If they want to do it, they’ll do it. If they don’t, they won’t be here for long.
“I’ve not banned anything, it’s up to them. If they want to go and eat something, I can’t be with them all the time, but it will affect their performance on the training ground and on the pitch. If they don’t look after themselves, they will not be here. It’s up to them. Players have a responsibility now to look after themselves. We can’t be with them 24 hours a day.
“Most of the time they’re here from nine o’clock until maybe three, four o’clock. After that they can go and do what they want. If they want to be a top-level footballer and get as high as they can themselves, they’ll look after themselves. If they don’t, they’ll regret it in years to come. There is big competition for places here. I’ve got players not even making the squad on a Saturday. If these guys are working hard and looking after themselves and the guys that in the squad aren’t, eventually the roles will be reversed.”
Hearts are again without striker James Keatings today due to an ongoing groin problem. Captain Danny Wilson was due to have his hamstring assessed this morning before a final decision is made on whether he plays. “Danny will get tested and if he’s 100 per cent he’ll play,” said Neilson. “If not, he’ll get a rest for the derby [next weekend].
“I’ve got guys desperate to come in so there won’t be any issues if he doesn’t make it. We got him scanned right away. It came back that it was a mild strain, so that’s good. Keats will probably miss this week with his groin, but we’ll try and get him back for the following week.”