Midfield change likely as Hearts fly out to Riga

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Robbie Neilson is set to recall midfielder Jorge Grant for Hearts' Europa Conference League tie with Riga FS in Latvia.

The Englishman is free of the one-match suspension which precluded him from last week's opening Group A match against Istanbul Basaksehir at Tynecastle Park.

He was red carded in the previous European match against FC Zurich but is now available again. Manager Neilson is ready to reinstate the player to add utilise his attack-minded passing game against RFS.

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“Jorge is back from his suspension and it will be great to get him back in again. I think Jorge brings us real attacking quality in that central area," Neilson told the Evening News, before explaining why this season's European adventure is a learning experience for Hearts.

His team fly out on Wednesday to face Riga in the Skonto Stadium on Thursday night. “You can feel the build-up to the games. We are training Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week and then we travel.

"We are visiting different stadiums, different teams and different players. It brings an excitement to the group. We need the experience of playing in these games, and also the experience of coming back and winning our league game on the Sunday. That’s the key that will get us consistent group-stage football.

"Although we have the learning curve on a Thursday night, we also need to learn how to recover from it and perform on the Sunday. That’s how we will stay in this position and make sure we get European football again."

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Basaksehir completed a comfortable 4-0 victory and Hearts hope to make more of an impression against Riga. Neilson anticipates a different game to the club's last trip to eastern Europe against Infonet Tallinn of Estonia back in 2016.

Jorge Grant could return to the Hearts midfield against Riga FS.Jorge Grant could return to the Hearts midfield against Riga FS.
Jorge Grant could return to the Hearts midfield against Riga FS.

“When we played Infonet, they were quite an expansive team," he said. "Riga sit in and hit you on the counter-attack because they are very well organised.

“We showed in the Zurich game, and the first 50 minutes against Istanbul, that we were in the game and creating chances. We have to do that for the full 90.

"If we do that then we have shown we can compete at that level but it’s doing it consistently. We can’t switch off like we did away against Zurich, which cost us the tie. In the last 25 minutes against Istanbul it was similar."