Injured Hearts duo feel 'no ill effects' from action ahead of Premier Sports Cup start
Stephen Kingsley and Jordan Roberts have given Robbie Neilson a boost ahead of Hearts’ competitive season kicking off this weekend.
Preparations for the trip to Peterhead are over after a training camp on the Ayrshire coast and two closed-door friendly games – a 4-1 win against Falkirk and 1-1 draw with Ayr.
The work done has placed the Jambos “in a good place” for the season’s start says boss Neilson – but an additional lift has been supplied by both Kingsley and Roberts coming through their games unscathed.
Ex-Falkirk defender Kingsley has been out since the middle of March with a groin issue, while Roberts missed the final month of the SPFL Premiership campaign on loan at Motherwell with a knee problem.
However both were given game-time in the course of the two wins and have reported no adverse effects from their respective inclusions.
That has given Neilson hope they could be nearing competitive football – but some of their younger colleagues have also used the matches to stake a claim for involvement in the newly re-named League Cup competition.
"Everyone in the group got some minutes on the pitch against either Ayr United or Falkirk and that’s crucial as we continue to build towards peak levels of fitness. We were able to bring Stephen Kingsley and Jordan Roberts in after both had been out for a while with injuries, and for them to play and not feel any ill effects is great, as has been some of the younger players stepping up and becoming part of the group,” Neilson said.
"We felt it was really important to get the group away to spend some time together. Team bonding is massive in football and opportunities to do it have been limited given everything that has been going on in the past year.
"I’m really pleased with the way the week has gone,” he told the Hearts website. "We head back to Edinburgh in a good place and focus now turns to the Premier Sports Cup game at Peterhead on Saturday and making sure that we get off to a good start this season."
Kick off at Balmoor is 3pm and followed by a midweek match at Tynecastle with Cove Rangers, led by ex-Jambo Paul Hartley. Spectator numbers in the staium will be capped at 500.