Robbie Neilson explains Hearts' plan for Ellis Simms and why he is a key addition after Celtic debut

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Hearts management expect Ellis Simms to play a prominent role for the rest of the season after an impressive debut against Celtic.

The striker signed on loan from Everton just hours before kick-off but delivered a very promising display as a second half substitute in the match at Tynecastle Park.

Although Hearts lost 2-1, their rousing second-half performance with Simms on the field showed they can be more than a match for Celtic.

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Robbie Neilson, the Edinburgh club’s manager, outlined his thoughts on Simms and returning midfielder Beni Baningime.

Hearts' new signing Ellis Simms warms up prior to kick-off against Celtic.Hearts' new signing Ellis Simms warms up prior to kick-off against Celtic.
Hearts' new signing Ellis Simms warms up prior to kick-off against Celtic.

“Simms coming in and getting game time, you can see he's going to be a top player for us,” said Neilson after the final whistle. “The plan was to get him half an hour so getting 45 minutes out of him was great.

“I was very impressed with him. We knew what he could do but it was just a case of whether he could he do it for us. Tonight was a very good marker.

“Beni is massive for us. We've really missed him. Although we've picked up results, he allows us to control games.”

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Baningime had missed two months with a knee injury but played the final 33 minutes against Celtic as a substitute.

Goals by Reo Hatate and Georgios Giakoumakis earned Celtic a 2-1 victory, with Liam Boyce scoring Hearts’ consolation. Neilson felt both Giakoumakis and Boyce could have been offside as he questioned assistant referee Dougie Potter.

Asked how he felt about some dubious decisions during the 90 minutes, Neilson gave an honest response and reiterated calls for VAR to be installed in Scottish football as quickly as possible.

“I thought the referee [John Beaton] did alright but the linesman let him down,” he explained. “The Celtic goal and our goal are two poor decisions. You get decisions like that every week.

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“For me, it's a clear-cut one. He's got to see it. There's nobody in between him and the Celtic player. We're all for VAR. The sooner it happens, the better.”

Hearts must now wait to learn the severity of injuries to defenders Michael Smith and Craig Halkett, who were both forced off in the game.

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