HEARTS will use Sunday’s friendly with St Johnstone to fine tune their preparations for the opening league game against Rangers. Head coach Robbie Neilson explained today that his thoughts are now dominated by the trip to Ibrox a week on Sunday, therefore this week’s training sessions are being geared towards that fixture.
Steven Anderson’s testimonial match at McDiarmid Park this weekend offers Hearts the last chance to tweak things ahead of their first league game. Neilson is keen to start on the front foot against the League One champions in his first league match in charge of the Edinburgh club.
However, he won’t necessarily name his preferred starting line-up for Ibrox against St Johnstone. Last weekend’s Petrofac Training Cup win over Annan Athletic offered him plenty food for thought, with Billy King, Osman Sow and Callum Paterson all scoring.
“We sat down right after the game on Saturday and started planning for the week ahead and the Rangers game. I’ve watched the DVD of Saturday’s game so we’re now preparing for the Rangers match at Ibrox,” said Neilson.
“We’ll probably give some guys game time on Sunday. Some boys haven’t had a lot of game time so they need fitness. Some other guys need it for their confidence so we’ll make our decisions throughout the week. Our focus now is the Rangers game. Some of the training work will be done with the St Johnstone game in mind but the majority of it will be geared to what we’re going to do at Ibrox and how we’re going to do it. We’ll try and implement some of it in the St Johnstone game.”
After three goals in three appearances for Hearts, Neilson is pleased with the contribution from recent signing Sow. He also feels the giant Swede is capable of producing more.
“That’s three in three games now and he’s still trying to get fit. He was away back to Sweden last week to get his stuff and he’s still staying in a hotel here. Once he gets a bit more training done, a few more games behind him and then gets into a flat and gets settled, hopefully he’ll push on again and we’ll see the real player that he is.”