BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has praised the squad for meeting the demands he is placing on them – especially since it means working on Sundays.
The Tynecastle outfit sit proudly at the Premiership summit after maintaining their flawless start with a fourth straight league win at Ross County on Saturday.
Neilson made no secret of the fact that he put the team through triple training sessions on their way to securing the Championship title last season.
There has been no let up behind the scenes on their return to the top-flight, with Neilson asking the players to come in for sessions on Sundays, which are traditionally a footballer’s day off.
New signings Juanma Delgado, Juwon Oshaniwa, Blazej Augstyn, Igor Rossi and Gavin Reilly have also immediately bought into Neilson’s way of working.
Neilson, whose side host Partick Thistle this Saturday, said: “The players understand the demands that get put on them, we came back in on Sunday morning to prepare like we do for every game.
“We’ve spoken about the demands we’ve put on them and the reason we do it, and we’ll prepare for Partick now.
“That’s what we have to do, we have to be relentless, continue doing what we did last season and continue to prepare and sacrifice time and energy to get results.
“We’ve got a really strong group, a group that want to do well in the league, they want to work hard for each other and they’re committed to getting better.
“It’s been fantastic, that’s five on the bounce if you include the League Cup win over Arbroath.”
Neilson still expects his squad to get physically stronger after several players, including midfielder Prince Buaben and three-goal striker Delgado, were hindered by injury during pre-season.
He added: “We’ve still got a few boys that are still not 100 per cent fit, you saw that with the guys that had to come off against Ross County. We had to use our squad.
“A lot of the guys were running on empty, they didn’t have much of a pre-season and then to play three games in a week and have the travelling, it was always going to be difficult so that’s why we had to utilise the squad.”