Robbie Neilson acknowledged today that Hearts are in the midst of a tough month of fixtures and that some inconsistent results should be expected.
Whilst disappointed to lose successively against Hamilton and Inverness, Neilson admitted his squad is still relatively young and unpredictable.
Hearts will be without the Nigerian international left-back Juwon Oshaniwa for the next two matches after his red card at Inverness. He has incurred an automatic two-game ban for violent conduct having raised a hand to Tobi Sho-Silva near the end of Friday night’s encounter. He will now miss Sunday’s league match against Aberdeen and next Wednesday’s League Cup tie at Kilmarnock to compound Neilson’s troubles.
The head coach admitted September was always likely to be a hazardous period – despite Hearts winning their first five league fixtures and then losing narrowly to Hamilton. They lost again at Inverness and now face Aberdeen at Tynecastle this weekend. Then it’s Kilmarnock in the cup before a trip to face Premiership champions Celtic in Glasgow.
Neilson pointed out that many of his players are still developing and said these games are part of their learning curve after being promoted from the Championship. “This month was always going to be difficult, and it’s proving to be that way,” he told the Evening News. “We’re playing Inverness, we have Aberdeen and Celtic and there’s a cup game against Kilmarnock. We just need to get back to being positive and hopefully get ourselves back on a decent run.
“We still have a lot of young players. They aren’t 28, 29 or 30 and playing consistently at the top of their game. These guys are still developing. We will have highs and lows and ups and downs. It’s up to us to try and help them through it.”
Neilson also told winger Billy King he should not be overly despondent at being left out of the starting line-up on Friday. King scored and delivered a fine performance at Hamilton in Hearts’ previous game.
“Having Sean McKirdy and Prince Buaben in the middle of midfield, I felt we needed players a wee bit more defensively minded out wide,” explained Neilson. “The players are always disappointed when they aren’t playing but they understand it’s part and parcel of football. Being at a big club, you start some games and you sit on the bench for some.”