HEARTS strikers Gavin Reilly and Abiola Dauda have been told to stay patient and grasp any opportunity during the final five games of the season.
Both players are trying to dislodge Juanma Delgado from the starting line-up and head coach Robbie Neilson wants them to remain focused even if game time is limited.
Juanma has started Hearts’ last six games and scored twice in the 2-1 win against Aberdeen two weeks ago. He looks to be adapting to Scottish football after a difficult period through the winter. Reilly and Dauda have been left on the substitutes’ bench as a result.
Neilson explained today that patience is key for both players but insisted they will be needed during the five post-split matches. Hearts are attempting to catch second-placed Aberdeen in the Premiership but need to overhaul an eight-point deficit to do so.
“This is just the way it is when a player comes in and does well and scores goals,” Neilson said. “The others just have to wait and be ready to go. They have to continue to train well, which both Reilly and Dauda have. When they get a chance – if it’s ten minutes, 15, or half an hour – they need to prove they can get into the team.”
Dauda will return to his parent club Vitesse Arnhem at the end of the season, whilst Reilly is nearing the end of his first year in the Premiership after arriving from Queen of the South on a three-year contract. Juanma is also in his maiden season with Hearts and is now finding his feet.
“Sometimes we expect too much from guys right away when they come in,” continued Neilson. “When they first arrive, nobody knows them, they’re a fresh face and they’re on fresh energy so they hit the ground running. Then there’s a little dip when the [colder] weather starts coming in and surfaces are affected. Being here isn’t so novel any more and people start to know them so they can go through a little lull. I always thought Juanma would come back towards the end of the season, which he has. Hopefully he can continue.”