Hearts in Spain: Robbie Neilson focuses on positives from Blackburn Rovers defeat as head coach provides injury update

Robbie Neilson laments Hearts’ defensive naivety but insists there were positives to take from his side’s 4-0 friendly defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

The Tynecastle club continued their winter training camp at the Marbella Football Center where they took on opponents currently fourth in the Championship.

Hearts missed a number of opportunities to get on the scoresheet themselves and were undone by some poor defending and a couple of excellent strikes which put Rovers 2-0 up.

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Neilson reckons this kind of test his more beneficial for himself and his players rather than playing a much smaller and easier opponent.

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson after his side were defeated 4-0 by Blackburn Rovers on Friday. Picture: Hearts

“I just spoke to the boys in there and said that, although we got beat 4-0, it was a really good workout for us. We have only had three training sessions since we came back in and that’s two games now, and we have another tough one on Sunday [against Almeria].

“I thought we were a wee bit naive – actually a big bit – defensively, making silly errors, but there were periods where we played well and our final ball wasn’t there.

“We have just over two weeks to get ready for our first game back and we’ll be a lot sharper.

“If we had played against a small team and won 8-0 you would watch it afterwards and see everything was nice and easy. We’ll go and watch that and we’ll see there were times when we weren’t pressing properly and other times when we were pressing too much. So there are loads of areas that we can sit down and work on.”

There were a few senior Hearts players sitting this one out with Craig Halkett, Barrie McKay and Peter Haring among those watching on. This group also included Andy Halliday who, Neilson insists, is fine to play despite his recent hair transplant.

“The majority are training just now, we just felt today was too early for them. We could have done with that experience. A few of them will get some minutes on Sunday and we’ll try and set up a friendly for next weekend as well.

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“Andy had a problem with his ankle and he has come back and felt his thigh a wee bit. He’ll be fine as long as some of his hair doesn’t get stuck to the ball."

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