Hearts boss: Bjorn Johnsen showing quality but he needs time

Bjorn Johnsen is beginning to show his quality in Scotland but still needs more time to adapt, according to Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson.

Monday, 31st October 2016, 5:30 am
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 8:52 am
Hearts striker Bjorn Johnsen celebrates scoring at Inverness

The American striker scored a vital goal in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Inverness, taking his tally to two in three games for the club.

Faycal Rherras and Arnaud Djoum also scored to rescue a point as Hearts recovered from 2-0 down and then 3-2 down.

Johnsen forced his way into the starting line-up and is expected to stay there for this weekend’s match with St Johnstone at Tynecastle.

Sign up to our Hearts newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Neilson explained that he is now producing the kind of form which prompted Hearts to sign him on a three-year deal in July.

“When we signed him, we knew he would score goals here,” Neilson told the Evening News. “His record and his goals-to-games ratio is very good. He’s a handful, as you could see on Saturday.

“He’s still getting used to Scottish football – how it’s played and how it’s refereed. That will take a little bit of time but I think you can see he is going to bring quality to us.

“We predominantly have one striker who will lead the line for us and the other will go and find pockets of space. That other one also has a responsibility to go in behind.

“We have a good balance there. We can play two No.9s if we want or we can play two No.10s if we fancy it.”

Conor Sammon and Tony Watt were left out of the staring line-up as Neilson favoured Johnsen and Robbie Muirhead in attack. However, the coach was unhappy with his team’s defending.

“The way we lost the goals wasn’t really down to the defence,” said Neilson. “It was the way we were structured when we lost the ball. We were too focused on attacking. We were building the play and people were advancing too far too early, then we got caught. We were exposed for all three goals. Inverness broke into the wide areas and we were over exposed.

“It’s disappointing not to get three points from the game but the positive is we got back into the game after being 2-0 down.”

• Hearts have recalled full-back Liam Smith after his one-month loan at Raith Rovers ended. The Fife club wanted to extend the player’s stay in Kirkcaldy but Hearts decided to bring him back.