Hearts have refused several offers of a winter training camp abroad because any facility would be second-rate compared with the Oriam performance centre at Riccarton.
Coaching staff have decided that the team will stay in Edinburgh during the Ladbrokes Premiership’s month-long January shutdown. They will use the state-of-the-art Oriam facilities to train during the four-week break from league duty.
Hearts’ last match of 2016 is against Aberdeen at Tynecastle on Friday, December 30. The Premiership then goes into hibernation until the last weekend in January. The Scottish Cup fourth round is due to take place on the weekend of January 21. Head coach Robbie Neilson looked at opportunities to take his squad abroad for a week but decided to make use of the Oriam complex, which only opened in August. It contains indoor and outdoor pitches, a fitness suite and hydrotherapy pool.
“We aren’t looking to go anywhere,” confirmed Neilson. “We’ve had some offers in to go here and there but, with the new performance centre opening up, it’s world-class. Anywhere we go is going to be second-rate compared to that.
“The boys will get some time off and then we’ll work hard at the academy over the winter break. We’re using some of the facilities just now. As winter progresses, we’ll get to use more and more of them because we won’t be able to go outside as much. The pitches outside are phenomenal so we like to use the grass as much as possible. If we get a decent winter, we might be able to train right through.”