Christophe Berra is back and ready to fight for his Hearts place under Robbie Neilson
Christophe Berra is ready to fight for his place under new Hearts boss Robbie Neilson.
The former Gorgie captain was denied that opportunity after Daniel Stendel deemed him surplus to requirements in the second half of last term but, having been loaned out to Dundee, the veteran defender showed he still has the ability to shackle Championship strikers, helping the Dens Park team to five clean sheets in his six appearances for James’ McPake’s side.
The 35-year-old Scotland international had been a rock for the capital side since his return in the summer of 2017 but he failed to hit the same heights last term, just one of several players who struggled as the team found itself mired at the foot of the Premiership.
But, demoted to the second tier and not scheduled to resume competitive action until October, Hearts players only returned for pre-season this week and Berra, like fellow returning exile Olly Lee, is determined to prove he still has what it takes to be a consistent performer when the campaign kicks off.
Speaking on The Nine, the former Wolves and Ipswich centre-back said he would be as professional as he always has been throughout his long career and maintains he is still in the shape to turn in the calibre of performance needed to help Hearts bounce straight back to the top flight.
“I will turn up and train like I have done for the last 18 years. I just want to play as many games as possible. I know I can still play at a good level.
“Everyone expects us to go back up but you need to earn the right and all the teams we go up against will be trying their hardest.
"We need to make sure we have the right attitude and application. We have a lot of good players and we go in with confidence.”