Robbie Neilson explains vision for Kye Rowles after Hearts summer signing finally arrives

Robbie Neilson has no doubts new signing Kye Rowles has the requirements to play the Stephen Kingsley role in the Hearts first team.

The Australian was listed as a trialist on Saturday and sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Crawley Town. Having just arrived the day before the head coach had no intention of playing the centre-back, but wanted him to get the experience of being in the matchday squad.

Rowles signed this summer from Central Coast Mariners but his arrival has been delayed due to red-tape issues. His registration is expected to go through this week.

The Socceroos star’s first experience of Tynecastle had the familiar sight of Kingsley making himself the goalscoring hero. Fresh off netting seven times last term, the defender scored twice, including a stunning opener, against the League Two visitors to put Hearts into an early 2-0 lead.

Kye Rowles was an unused substitute for Hearts in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Crawley Town. Picture: SNS

Neilson has previously spoken of his fondness for having Kingsley in the left-sided centre-back role. It gives Kingsley the freedom to charge forward and get involved in the attack while also swapping positions with whomever is at left wing-back.

Rowles, a left-sided defender himself, will be expected to operate in a similar manner when called upon and Neilson is fully confident the 24-year-old has what it takes to thrive.

“I'm 100 per cent confident Rowles can do the same job,” he told the Evening News. “He's played left-back before. He's played left wing-back, left centre-half. He's similar to Stephen and it means we can rotate these players in and out. It's very important this year that we have a number of players we can move about into different areas.

“He's a good defender, he's got good athleticism, he's aggressive but he's very good on the ball as well. He'll step forward looking to play passes. He's very much like Stephen and Alex [Cochrane]. I think it's very important we have these players to rotate in and out. We don't want to be putting right-sided players over to the left and vice versa. We need that balance.

"None of the players will play every game. There needs to be some sort of rotation to keep them fresh and reduce injury. So guys will come in and guys will go out."

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