Robbie Neilson is eager for Abiola Dauda and Jamie Walker to keep scoring goals after their pivotal impact on Hearts’ European quest.
The two players have claimed all of the Edinburgh club’s last seven goals, securing wins over Ross County, Kilmarnock and Inverness as the race for Europa League places intensifies.
Hearts are now sitting comfortably in third in the Ladbrokes Premiership, 11 points ahead of fourth-placed Ross County and with two games in hand. They look certain to secure a spot in the Europa League first qualifying round – the first leg of which is due to take place on June 30 this year – in their first season back in Scotland’s top flight.
Walker’s return from injury and Dauda’s arrival on loan from Vitesse Arnhem have been central to recent results, as head coach Neilson acknowledged. The winger missed three months of the campaign because of a knee problem but is now recapturing top form with four goals in his last five games. Dauda has three in five despite still adjusting to Scottish football.
After seeing the pair score one apiece in Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory over Inverness Caley Thistle, Neilson wants their form to continue against Partick Thistle tomorrow. “Walker has been great. He’s had a tough season with a couple of injuries and he’s managed to get himself back in and back fit,” he told the Evening News.
“I still don’t think he’s at the maximum. I’d say he’s probably about 70 per cent fit at the moment so we’re trying to manage him through that. It was good for him to get another goal on Tuesday against Inverness.
“Dauda is technically very good and it’s just getting the players to understand what he’s looking for. He goes for short passes and runs in behind. It’s something we’ve been trying to work on to get the best out of him. I’m really pleased with them both, they’ve made important contributions and lets hope the goals continue.”