NOT only have Hearts refused to down tools after winning the Scottish Championship, their players continue to embrace triple training sessions ahead of tomorrow’s match with Rangers at Ibrox. The game is vital to the Glasgow club’s promotion bid but their opponents are taking it just as seriously.
On Thursday, the Hearts players spent the entire day at Riccarton in a three-part session planned out by head coach Robbie Neilson and his coaching staff. The Tynecastle side were confirmed as league champions two weeks ago but Neilson’s continual quest for improvement goes on.
Teenage defender Jordan McGhee revealed that the squad were slightly surprised to find themselves called in for a triple session three days before a trip to Ibrox. However, he stressed there were no complaints.
“Everyone is putting in exactly the same effort. We did a triple session on Thursday and we’ll keep doing that from now until the end of the season,” he said. “A few of the boys were a bit shocked when they saw the rota for Thursday but it was enjoyable in the afternoon. To be fair, every session has been enjoyable this season.
“Maybe it was a message to us that we have to keep going because a few of the boys were shocked. When they came in they were all talking about it. But we got our heads down like we have done all season and we’ll go out and get our results on the pitch.
“The gaffer is still on our case, that’s just the way he is. He’s on our cases every day 24/7 and that’s obviously paid off for us this season with our results. We still have massive games to come even though the league is done. There are still a lot of points to play for. We have a big game against Hibs as well [next Sunday] which you always want to win and Rangers as well, so they are ones we’re looking forward to.”
A few of the boys were a bit shocked when they saw the rota and we were down for a triple sessionJordan McGhee
Hearts head to Ibrox seeking to protect an outstanding record of 13 wins and two draws from their 15 away league matches so far. “That’s another incentive, to try and make sure we keep that run going as well. It would be great to go through the season unbeaten away from home,” added McGhee.
Neilson knows this season’s romp to the league title means his players will attract interest from elsewhere. Captain Danny Wilson has already been linked with Celtic. However, Neilson is confident no-one will leave Tynecastle against his wishes this summer.
“If you do really well in the Championship and the players excel then there is going to be interest. That is football,” he said. “There has been interest in a lot of my players and we have a few boys out of contract, who we are negotiating with at the moment.
“The market is there for them to look elsewhere. I would like to try to keep my best players but there is a realisation that bigger clubs can come in and take them. What I would say is: I wouldn’t expect to lose anyone that I don’t want to lose. If there are people I want to keep, I expect to keep them.
“If teams make an offer that is acceptable to us, then I’ll expect to lose them. What I don’t expect to happen is someone moves on and we are not happy about it. If someone leaves the club then it will be on terms that are acceptable to the club and the player.”
As for next year, the top six is Hearts’ minimum target. “I think getting into the top six is a reasonable aim. We have good players here already and we will be recruiting again over the summer to get better players. We have bags of confidence and a massive fanbase which has backed us to the hilt. We have to aim for the top six.”