Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson today praised his players’ resilience after they beat third-place Queen of the South with six first-team regulars missing.
Osman Sow, Kevin McHattie, Sam Nicholson, Dale Carrick, Jason Holt and Soufian El Hassnaoui did not play on Saturday as Hearts stretched their unbeaten league run to 15 matches with a 4-1 victory.
James Keatings, Danny Wilson, Prince Buaben and Adam Eckersley scored the goals to leave Neilson delighted by the resilience and depth within his squad.
“I’m really pleased with the result on Saturday,” he told the Evening News. “We went into the game with a number of players out. Nicholson could have played if necessary, Carrick could have played, Holt could have been involved, but I didn’t want to push them too much. It’s a long season and we need to make sure we don’t bring guys back too early.
“With Danny Wilson, we played him in the derby and he wasn’t quite 100 per cent and got injured in that game.
“We have guys who can come in and do fantastically well. I thought they did just that against Queen of the South. It shows the depth of the squad we have here.
“We were missing McHattie, Sow, Nicholson, Carrick, Holt, Gomis and El Hassnaoui. That’s six players who have started a number of matches for us during the course of the season so far. It’s a huge percentage of the playing squad to be missing, yet we still managed to win 4-1 against a team sitting in third place.”
El Hassnaoui was named amongst the substitutes although he was still suffering the effects of a knock sustained against Rangers two weeks ago.
He is expected to be back to full fitness for this weekend’s trip to Cowdenbeath. Likewise, Nicholson, Carrick and Holt should all be available again having not been risked against Queen of the South.
Gomis will serve the second of a two-match suspension against his former club Cowdenbeath, whilst Sow and McHattie are on Hearts’ long-term injured list.
Neilson will now begin preparing his squad for the tough task of trying to take three points at Central Park.