Why Hearts were missing Nathaniel Atkinson, Peter Haring and Andy Halliday at Aberdeen

Reasons for players not taking part explained by head coach Steven Naismith
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Hearts named only eight substitutes instead of the permitted nine in their matchday squad at Aberdeen on Saturday, with defender Nathaniel Atkinson missing due to a late bout of illness. Midfielders Peter Haring and Andy Halliday were also not in the squad which travelled north from Edinburgh on Friday evening.

Head coach Steven Naismith explained to the Edinburgh News that Atkinson became unwell overnight at Hearts' team hotel and was not available for the game. The visitors lost 2-1 at Pittodrie despite leading at the interval thanks to Lawrence Shankland's header. Bojan Miovski and Leighton Clarkson scored the goals to earn Aberdeen a much-needed win to lift them out of the Premiership's relegation zone.

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Asked about Atkinson, Haring and Halliday, Naismith explained why none of the three took part. "It was just a selection thing [with Haring]. Andy has been on some antibiotics and Natty was ill overnight so he didn't make the squad."

Naismith could not hide his disappointment with the outcome at full-time and reiterated his frustration at Hearts letting their 1-0 advantage slip. "You come away from a game in which, for the first half-hour, there is so much good stuff but you got nothing and that's why you are so disappointed," he said.

"There will be positives in terms of our structure at the start of the game, how we were brave enough to play and pass, what that created, and us having full control. You could see them - they couldn't get near us and they couldn't work it out. For it to turn, that's the hard part."

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