Robbie Neilson outlines what Hearts need and provides Craig Halkett and new signing update

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson expressed his frustration at the team’s inability to recapture their performance in the first 20 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Livingston as he outlined a key factor missing from the team’s play.

The Tynecastle Park side have now lost five of their last six matches in all competitions and not kept a clean sheet in 13 games.

Hearts started positively at the Tony Macaroni Arena but were not able to capitalise on their early dominance, squandering two good chances before falling out of the game.

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"That was a big frustration,” Neilson said. “We spoke at half-time about trying to get back to that again. The whole game plan when you come here is to take it out of the pressure areas because they want to come after you centrally.

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"First 20 minutes we were great, switching play, getting it wide, getting deliveries. And then the game starts to break up a wee bit and we start forcing the ball into the middle areas. They get regains, they start breaking on you, start getting shots on goal and the whole momentum of the game turned. That was the disappointing thing. You need to match the intensity here but you also have to take the game yourself and say 'right, this is what we're going to do'.

"When you are on top, you have to get the goal. We got two or three opportunities and didn't take them.

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“Similar to Wednesday night, we didn't have that spark because of fatigue in the team. We need to get that energy back for the final moment.

Hearts are set to welcome back Craig Halkett for Thursday’s Conference League encounter at Tynecastle Park against Istanbul Başakşehir but there is less clarity around new signing Orestis Kiomourtzoglou.

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Hearts boss Robbie Neilson during the Premiership fixture with Livingston. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

"[Halkett] was touch and got for today," Neilson said. “The original injury is okay, he just had a wee spasm. He should be back for Thursday and will be a big positive.

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"It's the government now. It could be tonight, it could be next month. That's the frustrating thing.”

Regarding potential new signings, he added: “We are still looking. Experience tells you that it usually takes a week to ten days, then people start realising: 'That's an option for me.' We'll see where we are.”

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