Hearts explain Jamie Walker's absence
The winger has not started any of the three Premier Sports Cup ties so far this season, appearing as a substitute in two of them. He was left in the stand against Cove Rangers last week as the club look to improve his fitness levels.
Extra training sessions have been undertaken by Walker in an effort to reach peak condition and reclaim a starting berth in Neilson’s side. Hearts want him fully fit and available by the time the cinch Premiership campaign begins against Celtic a week on Sunday.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Neilson said Walker is gradually making progress.
“There is no doubting Jamie has great ability. He has a moment in him and can win a match for you. We are just continuing to work on his fitness,” stated the manager.
“He was a bit stop-start last season. Coming into pre-season, he needs to continue to improve his fitness levels. To be fair, he's doing that.
“That's one of the reasons we took him out of the Cove Rangers game last week, to continue working him. It was a case of either giving him 20 minutes against Cove or training him for 90 minutes that day, and then training him again the next day to be ready for the Sunderland friendly [last Saturday].
“He got a good 80 minutes or so in that match. He’s just continuing to build his fitness so he's getting there.”