Robbie Neilson relishes Hearts European draw and has say on Mesut Ozil, travelling and injuries

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson welcomed the Europa Conference League draw and reiterated his desire to “have a go” at opponents when they come to Tynecastle Park.

The Gorgie side were drawn alongside Fiorentina, İstanbul Başakşehir and RFS of Latvia in Group A, with the first fixture early next month.

Neilson believes the team can take heart from the way they played against Zurich over the two legs of the Europa League play-off tie despite losing 3-1 on aggregate.

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"I think it's a great draw," he said. “The trips will be brilliant for the fans. Fiorentina need no introduction. They have been one of the top teams in Europe for a number of years, they've played in all the tournaments and won trophies. It's a great place to go.

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"Istanbul will be an unbelievable atmosphere, as you get in these places. For the fans, players and staff to experience it will be great. Latvia is a different country for us all and hopefully a chance to go and play well and pick up points.

"You are going to play good teams and see the level we need to try to get to consistently. We have earned the right to play group-stage football. We knew whoever came out that hat would be tough, especially from Pot 1 and Pot 2.

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"These are great games and that's what we want. We want to bring these teams to Tynecastle under the floodlights with a big atmosphere and real intensity. We want to have a go like we did last night.”

Ozil, travelling and St Johnstone

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Hearts boss Robbie Neilson has had his say on the Conference League draw. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Neilson joked he will have to “pick about four of them” to mark the likes of World Cup winner Mesut Ozil, who has joined Başakşehir, but urged his players to relish the experience and have the “belief that you can play at that level because it's different from Scotland”.

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As well as finding that consistency and reaching those levels, Hearts will also have to contend with travelling demands.

"They are all jaunts to be honest,” Neilson said. “You finish these games at ten o'clock at night, then there's drug-testing so you don't leave the stadium till half past 11 or 12 o'clock. Then you travel all the way home and it's difficult, but that's part of being in Europe.

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"You need to get used to it. Big players and big teams do it. If we want to do it consistently, we have to be able to manage the situation.”

Hearts could come up against Mesut Ozil in the Conference League. (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty Images)
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Hearts turn their attention back to domestic duties this weekend when they host St Johnstone in the Premiership.

They will have to do so without Craig Halkett, Alex Cochrane and Toby Sibbick, while Stephen Kingsley is doubtful with a hamstring issue.

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“We will see how they are on Saturday with fatigue from Thursday. We have a number of players who can come in like they did at Celtic Park.

"I've watched a number of St Johnstone's games this season and they have been unlucky.

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"They play the same system, know exactly what they are doing and have loads of energy and competitiveness in their team. We need to make sure we match that, which is always the issue after a European game. Can you get that intensity and win the match?”

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