ROBBIE NEILSON stressed today he will not dismantle Hearts’ starting line-up after their first league defeat last week.
The head coach insisted there will be no hasty changes when he names the team to face Alloa tomorrow because knee-jerk reactions go against his philosophy.
Falkirk’s 3-2 win at Tynecastle ended Hearts’ 20-game unbeaten league run but Neilson is adamant there will only be minor changes to his side. Centre-back Alim Ozturk will start after serving a one-match suspension. Neilson explained that he wants continuity and stability and has no intention of making rash decisions after one loss.
“I’m not going to be hasty about decisions after one result. The players have given us fantastic performances all season,” he told the Evening News. “To jump the gun after one performance and say this and that is going to change, it’s not going to happen here. The whole ethos of this place is consistency and building towards the future. You can’t do that if you’re going to take a shotgun approach and make decisions on the spur of the moment.
“I knew how I was going to play at Alloa a couple of weeks ago. We have to be realistic. We were never going to go through the season unbeaten, it was just never going to happen. Losing is part of football. It’s not like other jobs where you’re competing against yourself or against a deadline or something. In football, you compete against 11 other guys who are desperate to beat you. Things happen on a pitch that make it difficult for you. Falkirk did extremely well last week. They recovered from a difficult start to get three points and all credit to them. They deserved it.”
Hearts won 1-0 at Alloa last time thanks to a deflected free-kick by Adam Eckersley. “We’d take another 1-0 as long as we get the three points but we’d like to go down there and win a bit more convincingly,” said Neilson. “We’re under no illusions how difficult it is. Not a lot of teams go to Alloa and win.
“The boys know what to expect from the pitch having played there last time. We go in as favourites, which is hard because teams see you as a scalp. I expect Alloa to take a kick from us going down there with a full allocation of fans and stepping out into a full stadium.”
As the January transfer window draws to a close, Neilson is pleased that he has received no transfer bids for any of his players. Midfielder Jason Holt is expected to complete a loan move to Sheffield United until the end of the season. Asked about scouts attending matches to watch his players, Neilson responded: “There’s loads of people come to watch them. Whether they’ll come to Alloa on Saturday, I don’t know. But there’s been guys coming to games for the whole season. There are players in our team who will move on to bigger and better things eventually, but we’ve got a job to do here first.”
• HEARTS are donating match tickets to the Streetwork UK charity as a thank-you to former player John Colquhoun. The winger will make a guest appearance at Gorgie Live in Tynecastle’s Gorgie Suite tomorrow. The event will screen Alloa v Hearts live, with tickets priced at £10, including a free pie and beer/wine/soft drink. You can book tickets by calling 0871 663 1874, option 1 then option 8, or visit the Tynecastle ticket centre.
• FORMER Hearts midfielder Ruben Palazuelos has joined Ross County on trial as the Dingwall club look to sign a midfielder before the transfer window closes. The 31-year-old, who had four years at Tynecastle, left Cypriot club Ermis in November and is hopeful of impressing County manager Jim McIntyre as he aims to return to the Scottish Premiership.