Hearts boss unfazed by card count

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson
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Hearts will consider leaving players out of the team to avoid suspensions over the winter but head coach Robbie Neilson stressed today that he will not change his team’s style of play.

Midfielder Morgaro Gomis, on four yellow cards, is nearest to the six-booking threshold which would trigger an automatic one-match ban. Defender Alim Ozturk and midfielder Prince Buaben are both on three cautions each. Hearts have averaged two bookings per league game this season.

Neilson insisted he is happy with his players’ application and the energy they show in pressing the opposition. He has no intention of altering the approach, although he may leave players out of the team to avoid bookings at times depending on upcoming fixtures. Right-back Callum Paterson begins a two-match suspension against Raith Rovers today after his red card in the recent Edinburgh derby. Brad McKay and Jordan McGhee are poised to deputise.

“We’re still okay at the moment because it’s six yellow cards before you get a ban,” said Neilson. “We have a couple of players sitting on three and four but this is part and parcel of the way we play. We get after the ball and make tackles to try and win it back, so you’re always going to get bookings.

“If it does come to a stage where we’ve got a game coming up that I’d really like to keep someone for, then I’ll look at it. We do have plenty cover and that’s why it’s important everyone is ready to play. It will come to a point where we have a couple of suspensions, like Callum after his sending off, so it’s important guys like Jordan McGhee and Brad McKay are ready to come in.”

Neilson said he is not intending to switch Adam Eckersley from left-back to right-back to cover for Paterson’s absence. “Adam is a left-back but not really a right-back. I played left-back two or three times in my career but I wouldn’t class myself as a left-back. We’re possibly going to change the formation a wee bit and look at some different things for the next couple of weeks.”