Hearts and Rangers to play English Championship side managed by ex-Ibrox defender in friendlies

Hearts and Rangers will step up their preparation for a return to Premiership action in December with behind-closed-doors friendlies against Swansea City.

The Ibrox clubs first-team stars returned to training on Monday, while Robbie Neilson is set to take his side Malaga for a week-long mid-season training camp. Before they do they are to play a match with the English Championship side at the Oriam.

Rangers, who have appointed Michael Beale as their new manager, are the first to return to competitive action when they meet Hibs. They will also face Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox.

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Swansea boss Russell Martin, a former Scotland defender who had a stint at Rangers, confirmed the arrangements. The Welsh outfit have arrived in Edinburgh where they will be based at the Oriam as they step up their own preparations for the return of England’s second tier on December 10.

"It came about because we needed games during that period,” he told Welsh media. “We can't not have any games going into Norwich. We'll focus more on the physical side more than anything else. Then we need a couple of weeks on the training pitch and working on things before we go into the next block of games. Within that, we needed some games. We don't want to play another Championship team because it's counter productive, playing against someone you're going to play against, why would you give them a chance to play against you and work out some stuff?

"Premier League teams don't go back until two-and-a-half weeks after us so none of them want games until the week after when we're playing our first league game. So the only other option was to try and go abroad or we can use the contacts we've got up the road, me personally and Andy Goldie can sort out some games that way, so we have, and we're really pleased with the quality of games we've got.

"Hearts are great, they're playing us before they go away and then Rangers are coming back and playing us, so it'll be two really good tests for us. We'll get everyone some minutes. It's going to be freezing, we can't afford warm weather training! It'll really serve a purpose and get everyone together again."

Swansea City will be based at Oriam during their stay in Edinburgh. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

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