Four strikers, three goals, but Hearts boss remains patient

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson looks on in training ahead of Friday's clash with Motherwell. Picture: SNS

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson looks on in training ahead of Friday's clash with Motherwell. Picture: SNS

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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has launched a staunch defence of his strikers, insisting the goals will come.

Neilson signed four strikers in the summer but they have so far only produced three of the club’s 20 goals this season. Conor Sammon has netted two while Tony Watt has one and both Bjorn Johnsen and Robbie Muirhead have yet to get off the mark.

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Consecutive blanks against St Johnstone and Ross County have increased the frustration felt among supporters.

But, before Friday’s Ladbrokes Premiership trip to Motherwell - where Hearts have not won in six years - Neilson is adamant his attackers will find their shooting boots.

Asked if he was concerned, he said: “No, it’s fine, it’s part of football. The performances have been really good which is pleasing.

“We are creating chances but we aren’t getting that final finish but that will come.

“It’s not something I’m overly worried about. We’ve spoken about it and players work on their finishing all the time.

“We’ve got good quality here but we’ve just gone through a little barren spell. If the performances are right we’ll score goals.

“There is no issue at all about the strikers, the strikers are top quality and that is why they are here.

“They are creating chances, we are just not taking them at the moment but come back to me in six weeks’ time and we’ll see if we are having the same conversation.”

At the other end of the park, there was cause for optimism with full-back Callum Paterson and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton being called up for Scotland’s double header against Lithuania and Slovakia in October.

Neilson believes his decision to place faith in 22-year-old Hamilton as his number one at the start of the season has been vindicated.

“It’s great for all the players that get into international football, it gives them a lift, it gives them an experience to go try different football and be in a different environment, and it’s a challenge for them as well,” he said.

“I’m really pleased that Jack got back in it again. I think he has performed really well this season and hopefully we get more boys into that top squad.

“It’s always a gamble when you put in a young keeper. He got to that level where he could have gone out on loan but I felt he was ready to come into the first team and he’s proven that decision to be right.”

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