“I support a platform for the young players to go and play,” said the Tynecastle manager. “We have not had a reserve league for a number of years and it has really hindered the development of these players.
“We have had to find loan deals to put them out but then we have no control over what happens there - how they play, how they train, the environment they are in.
“If we can get that I would be delighted. It would be great for that young group who can get challenged week in and week out, in competitive games and we can keep an eye on their progressions. I’d be all for it.”
The decision to admit Celtic and Rangers development teams into the Lowland League set up this season was a contentious one but, at a meeting on Monday night, the majority of member clubs voted in favour of admitting two guest teams again next season.
That means they could be forced into another tough decision if Celtic and Rangers both reapply, and Hearts also come knocking.
In the ongoing absence of a reserve league, many clubs feel that the gap between under-18 level and the first team is too wide, preventing more academy players from making the jump.
This is a source of frustration for Neilson, who is looking for a solution as more teams attempt to become self-sustainable when it comes to building a first-team squad.
“It will only work well if you get these boys in your first team,” continued Neilson. “It doesn’t matter about winning it, it’s about a development process to get them in your first team and the proof will be in the pudding if you can develop three or four players to put into your first team. We hope we’d be able to do that if we do get in the Lowland League because they’re not getting the development they deserve in reserve football at the moment.”
Celtic and Rangers B teams currently sit third and fourth in the league respectively.