Hearts' pre-season taking shape with trip to England

Hearts will travel to England for a pre-season friendly against Preston North End this summer.
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The Edinburgh club are due at Deepdale on Wednesday, July 20, to face the EFL Championship side in a 7.45pm kick-off. They are also considering a second friendly against another English team either side of that fixture as management aim to ensure the first-team squad are up to speed for the new season.

An early outing at East Fife has already been confirmed for Tuesday, July 5. That comes just days after Hearts return from a pre-season training camp near Marbella in the south of Spain.

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Other fixtures are set to follow, with the Scottish Premiership due to kick-off on the weekend of July 30/31. This season’s campaign includes a five-week break from November 12/13 to allow foreign players to take part in the World Cup in Qatar.

Scotland’s defeat against Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final at Hampden Park last week ensures they will not take part in the finals but the Premiership structure for next season will not change.

Hearts will not take part in the Premier Sports group stage in July because they are in European competition the following month, so they receive a bye to the tournament’s knockout phase.

They are due to take part in the Europa League play-off on August 18 and August 25 as they try to earn a lucrative place in the tournament’s group stage. Defeat in that tie would see Robbie Neilson’s side parachute into the Europa Conference League groups.