Hearts: Robbie Neilson not expecting player sales

Robbie Neilson, Jack Ross and Stevie Crawford oversee training at Riccarton ahead of this weekend's match at Alloa 'Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Robbie Neilson, Jack Ross and Stevie Crawford oversee training at Riccarton ahead of this weekend's match at Alloa 'Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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ROBBIE Neilson is confident that he will not lose any of his players over the closing days of this transfer window.

Hearts’ head coach believes that, in that event, he does not need to add to his squad, which has in any case been augmented this month by the loan signing of Dutch striker Genero Zeefuik and the return from injury of several players.

With Soufian El Hassnaoui having joined Osman Sow and Dale Carrick in becoming available for selection again following injury, Neilson has a full squad to choose from with the exception of Kevin McHattie.

“I don’t expect anything to happen, to be honest with you, no,” Neilson replied yesterday when asked if he thought there would be movement in or out of Tynecastle over the coming few days. “There’s been no offers for any of the players so far and I don’t really expect anybody to move on. So we’ll just wait and see. And if nobody moves out, nobody will come in.

“I expect there will be some nibbles, maybe in the last few hours of the window. But we’re in a position where we don’t need to sell anybody, so I don’t expect anybody to go.

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“Loads of people have come to watch them,” he continued, referring to scouts. “Whether they’ll come to Alloa on Saturday, I don’t know. But there have been guys coming to games for the whole season, really. There are players in our team that will move on to bigger and better things eventually, but we’ve got a job to do here first.”

The job at the Indodrill Stadium tomorrow is to bounce back from Hearts’ first league defeat of the season, at home to Falkirk last Saturday. Neilson had consistently said that a loss was inevitable eventually, and that the important thing was how his players responded to it. Now, with Rangers on cup duty over the next two weekends and Hibs in the Scottish Cup, too, Hearts are guaranteed to extend their lead provided they win tomorrow then against Livingston the following Saturday.

“It’s just part and parcel of football,” Neilson said of the 3-2 loss to Falkirk – the first time all season that his team had lost more than a single goal in a league game. “The longer it went, the bigger the build-up was going to be to a defeat, and it was always going to happen.

“It was always going to be a case where we drop three points when somebody beats us. Disappointed to do it at Tynecastle, but it’s given us another opportunity now to go and build again. It’ll give us another 
focus and we can try to go on another run.

Hearts: Neilson eyes April for Rangers rematch

“It’s not something we look at, how far ahead we could be. It’s more a case of just it’s a game for us to go and win. That was the reason we took the Livingston game next week as well – it’s 
another game that we can play on a Saturday and try to get the three points. It gives us a 
chance to have a week’s build-up in between.

“There wasn’t any doubt that some teams would lose games throughout the course of the season. It’s how you react to it. Hopefully, we react to it in a positive manner. It’s a very difficult place to go, Alloa. We had a difficult time there last time and we got a last-minute goal to get a 1-0 victory. I expect it to be just as hard on Saturday. Hopefully we get three points. If we don’t, then we’ll keep working and do what we’re doing.”

Composed and always well prepared for anything the league campaign could throw at him, Neilson has never looked like he needed a break from the rigours of everyday football management.

But, just in case he did need to recharge his batteries, he was presented with the opportunity to do so earlier this week when he went on a coaching course in Glasgow. “It was good to hear different people and see different things.

“Kevin Keegan was on and he spoke about his side of management. It was just good to hear his side of things, how he coached players and how he dealt with people, things like that. And then we had some guys from different universities as well, so it was a good wee break.

“It was at Hampden and Lesser Hampden. It was a good get together. There were a lot of managers and head coaches there. It was a good couple of days – very time-consuming, but it was good to get a chance to go and do a bit of education work.”