Hearts line up English Championship and La Liga teams for friendlies in Spain – and a bounce game at Tynecastle
Hearts will take on Swansea City in a bounce match at Tynecastle today before departing for a week-long training camp in Spain, where they intend to play two more friendlies against English Championship and La Liga opponents.
The Edinburgh Evening News understands games have been lined up in southern Spain against Blackburn Rovers on Friday, December 2, and Almeria on Sunday, with both games expected to be confirmed when paperwork is finalised. The matches will take place in Malaga and will provide Robbie Neilson’s men with a good test as part of their seven-night stay at La Cala Resort on the Costa Del Sol. Almeria are currently 14th in the Spanish top flight, while Blackburn, managed by Jon Dahl Tomasson, are third in the English Championship.
Hearts players and staff are due to depart Scotland on Wednesday, November 30 and return on December 7, giving the first-team squad a week of warm-weather training and two matches to prepare them for the rest of the campaign. They spent a week at the same location in June and were impressed enough with the facilities on offer to secure another trip.
Before departing, the team will take on Swansea in a behind-closed-doors match at Tynecastle Park on Tuesday, November 29. The Welsh club have based themselves at Scotland’s performance centre for a six-day mini training camp of their own and will also play Rangers in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week in a bid to maintain match fitness ahead of their next English Championship contest with Norwich City on December 10. Currently eighth in the Championship, Swansea are also in contention for promotion to the Premiership.
Manager Russell Martin, the former Scotland international, said: "Hearts are great, they're playing us before they go away and then Rangers are coming back and playing us, so it'll be two really good tests for us. We'll get everyone some minutes. It's going to be freezing, we can't afford warm weather training. It'll really serve a purpose and get everyone together again."
A group of around 12 senior Hearts players were given a fortnight off after the last competitive match against Livingston at Tynecastle Park on November 12, but they are all back in training this week. Hearts return to competitive action when Kilmarnock visit Tynecastle Park in the Premiership on December 17.