Emphasis on high-tempo attacks as Hearts focus on playing to their strengths

As the hitherto unbeaten Hearts squad jet out to St Gallen this afternoon, manager Robbie Neilson emphasised the need to play to their attacking strengths.

The Edinburgh meet FC Zurich in the Kybunpark in Thursday evening’s Europa League play-off first leg following two wins and a draw from their opening three Premiership matches.

Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Dundee United showcased their goalscoring threat but only after a mediocre first half display. Neilson made clear the need to attack at pace using wide areas whenever possible.

“Dundee United were coming off the back of a difficult European result so we knew they were going to be coming out the traps at us. We spoke about getting a good start and we got it with Lawrence Shankland’s early goal, but we never really kicked on from there until the second half.

“We got the early goal and then I felt we started to think about Thursday night – instead of going for the jugular and keeping going again and again. Sometimes you can think you are better than you are at times. We need to realise what we are good at.

“What we are good at is moving the ball quickly, getting it into wider areas, into the box and scoring goals. If we start to force things then we aren’t so good.”

Neilson also stressed the mental and physical challenge starting now for Hearts as they encounter midweek games followed by weekend fixtures for several weeks.

“I’m pleased with our domestic start, although we wanted to win all the games,” said the manager. “Now we go into a really tough period with midweek and weekend games for six or seven weeks. Then we go into an international break and then we do it again. This will be a key period in the season where we need to continue picking up points domestically.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson wants to see crosses in the box.

“You look at Dundee United: A good team who played in Europe and then lost the next game. Then they played in Europe again the following week and lost the next game again. It’s very difficult to sustain that but we need to think about it and we need to do it.

“The players need to realise that this is the time that they need to commit, really look after themselves in terms of recovery and make sure they can play at the weekends.”

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