Neilson has no qualms about picking McKay for Hearts

Robbie Neilson respects Brad McKay's decision to join St Johnstone. Pic: SNS
Robbie Neilson respects Brad McKay's decision to join St Johnstone. Pic: SNS
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HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson revealed today that he has no problem with playing departing Jambo Brad McKay for the rest of the season – because the big defender has told him that he wants to leave with a title winner’s medal.

The 21-year-old signed a pre-contract agreement with St Johnstone on Wednesday, but intends to help his boyhood heroes win the Scottish Championship before defecting to Perth.

The player has been restricted to a bit-part role thus far. However, the head coach is convinced he remains thoroughly committed to Hearts’ title push despite knowing his future lies at McDiarmid Park.

The Edinburgh club can create a 19-point advantage over second-placed Rangers if they beat Livingston tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to play Brad at all,” Neilson told the Evening News. “He’s always been professional and he’s done really well when he’s come into the team. He’s sat out for long periods of the season then come in and done really well. Brad’s a big Hearts fan, he’s been here for years and he’s desperate to leave the club on a high. If we can help him do that, there will be nobody happier than him.

“It’s a good move for Brad. He wants to play first-team football. He hasn’t played a lot of games for us this season but when he has been called upon he’s done exceptionally well. I expect him to be exactly the same until the end of the season.

“I’ve had a conversation with him about it. He’s a Hearts fan and he wants to be here to try and help us win the league. He sees playing at St Johnstone next season as a better opportunity for him and I respect that. It’s part and parcel of football.

“You get guys who maybe aren’t playing as many games as they’d like and it’s up to us to try and help them progress their careers as well. I think this is a good move both for Brad and for St Johnstone.”