Robbie Neilson wants Hearts to be up for lower-profile games

Hearts struggled against Motherwell last Saturday. Pic: SNS
Hearts struggled against Motherwell last Saturday. Pic: SNS
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ROBBIE NEILSON stressed today that Hearts will be fully motivated for Celtic’s visit this weekend – it’s the other games he’s concerned about. The head coach insisted intensity levels must improve in lower-profile matches after Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Fir Park.

Celtic can all but secure a fifth successive league title if they win at Tynecastle on Saturday. At best, Aberdeen could then only draw level on points with the Parkhead club, who hold a vastly superior goal difference.

Neilson expects Hearts to rise to the challenge in what is traditionally a high-octane fixture. However, he admitted his team are lacking enough spark in other matches. He wants to see more purpose in games against so-called smaller clubs if Hearts are to continue improving.

“I’m not concerned about losing momentum [before the end of the season]. We play Celtic this week in the biggest game of the weekend,” he said. “The energy and everything will be there for that. The issue we have is it needs to be there for every game.

“It can’t just be for Aberdeen and Celtic and your games at home. It’s got to be Inverness away, Motherwell away, Partick away. You’ve got to bring that intensity.

“At the moment, we’re struggling to get that consistency of momentum. We have periods in games when we bring it, then periods when we don’t. In some games we do it for the full match and we get results.

“On Saturday, we just didn’t bring any. We need to be better than that. If we want to improve next year, we have to better at going to places like Fir Park, playing football but also competing better.”