Robbie Neilson: ‘Ecstatic’ Hibs shows Hearts’ progress

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson talks to the press ahead of his side's Ladbrokes Premiership fixture against Ross County. Picture: SNS
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson talks to the press ahead of his side's Ladbrokes Premiership fixture against Ross County. Picture: SNS
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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson accepts Hibs had “every right” to celebrate their comeback in Sunday’s Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby.

But he was happy to hear their delight since it underlined what a fortress Tynecastle has become if teams are so delighted to simply gain a draw at the ground.

Hearts have a quick turnaround following the disappointment at letting slip a 2-0 lead against their fiercest rivals when they travel to face Ross County tonight in a rearranged league fixture.

Defensive pair Blazej Augustyn and Igor Rossi are suspended while skipper Alim Ozturk, another centre-half, is an injury doubt. John Souttar, the transfer-day deadline signing from Dundee United, is likely to make his debut in the middle of defence.

But Neilson was still dealing with the fall-out from Sunday’s derby yesterday as he reflected on the celebrations of Hibs players, who played Easter Road anthem Sunshine on Leith at full volume in the away dressing room after the 2-2 draw.

“It’s a good sign that,” said Neilson. “It shows us that a team coming to Tynecastle and getting a draw are ecstatic.

“It’s good for us to realise that is what it means to teams to come to a place like this and get a draw. But the tie is far from over. We went there last season and got a last-minute equaliser through Ozturk and we were delighted with that, it’s human nature,” he added.

“It’s the same result for both teams but the way the outcome came about it is obviously better for one team. They are more than entitled to celebrate how they want.”

The replay is now confirmed for Tuesday evening, meaning that live television coverage is forbidden due to Uefa rules relating to broadcasting games in competition with Champions League fixtures.

Neilson revealed there were moves to stage the game on Monday night in order to escape the live television ban.

“They spoke about playing it on Monday night,” he said. “But the Champions League makes it difficult for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“A Monday night would be a quick turnaround after a Saturday game, which Hibs have as well. That’s football. The big clubs drive it. I think Hibs were quite keen to find an alternative but with the fixture list we just couldn’t do it. It would have been great if it was on TV again and broadcast throughout Britain but, at the end of the day, Champions League takes precedence.”

Neilson, meanwhile, has promised to invest wisely the money earned from Osman Sow’s transfer to Chinese Super League club Henan Jianye. The head coach revealed the striker’s move has now been completed, with Hearts set to receive £1 million plus for a player who is out of contract in the summer.

“It’s done and dusted,” added Neilson. “Osman is away, he flew out yesterday and is now a Chinese Super League player. He’s an example of what we want to do here,” he continued. “We want to develop our own players as well as those who come in. We develop them, get the best out of them while we can then let them move on to bigger and better things.”

“Osman’s money will help the club develop as a whole, not just first-team wise,” he added. “The academy and the whole infrastructure will benefit.”