Rangers v Hearts: Manager explains game-time plan for Australia World Cup trio and Craig Halkett

Robbie Neilson has revealed that Craig Halkett is not ready for a place on the bench at Ibrox, but the Hearts boss won’t hesitation to play his Australia World Cup trio against Rangers.

Halkett is back in training after his hamstring injury, but the centre-back won’t be risked for he trip to Glasgow and it now looks increasingly unlikely that he will return to the squad for the last match before the World Cup break against Livingston at Tynecastle Park on Saturday.

Hearts are without Jorge Grant tonight after their appealing against the midfielder's red card from Sunday's 3-2 victory over Motherwell was rejected, while Peter Haring, Stephen Kingsley and Stephen Humphrys remain sidelined.

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“Halkett not quite there yet, Haring is out,” revealed the Hearts boss. “You have the two longer-term ones with Stephen. It’s much the same as the weekend.”

Robbie Neilson congratulates Kye Rowles on his AustralianWorld Cup call-up. Picture: by Mark Scates / SNS

Kye Rowles, who was given a few minutes at the end of Sunday’s match after recovering from a metatarsal injury, is expected to feature after being included in the Socceroos squad for Qatar along with clubmates Cammy Devlin and Nathanial Atkinson.

Neilson explained: “I have spoken to the three of them. They have only got a week’s training camp. I think they have one bounce game for the whole squad, so they will probably only get a half. They need to be as fit as they can to give themselves a chance of getting in the team and staying in the team. All three are desperate to play as much as they can leading up to it.”

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He added: “I’m delighted for the three of them. They took the chance to come over here, half way around the world, and the objective was always to get into the national team, or stay in the national team, and they’ve managed to do. It’s great for them and the club.

“It’s great all three are going. When we were looking at the squads, Kye and Natty played quite a bit. Cammy was the one that was probably borderline, but his performances in Europe have merited inclusion because he has shown he can play in big games.

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Hearts´ Aussie trio, Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles and Cammy Devlin, are all at different stages in terms of peaking for the World Cup. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

“It’s great, it gives us players to support over there, we’ll watch the game and hopefully they’ll do well. It’s amazing they’re all back fit now with a World Cup around the corner. It’s great for the rest of the boys as well, it shows the club can get guys to that level.”

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Neilson is expecting a tough game against Rangers and wary of a backlash after their defeat away to St Johnstone on Sunday. Asked he was wary of a backlash, Neilson replied: “We will just need to wait and see. When you go to Ibrox it’s always a tough game. It does not matter if you have won ten in a row or lost a couple of games.

“It’s a difficult place to go, good players, yes they lost at the weekend there but they bounce back regularly throughout the season. “We have to go there and play the game we want to play. Hopefully that will be enough for us.”

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