BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson could be forgiven for cursing the timing of the international break as the Jambos look to cement their place at the summit of the Premiership with a sixth win from six matches.
However, the Tynecastle boss insists he is ready to welcome the hiatus with open arms.
Neilson admits the capital club’s sensational start to the campaign has taken its toll on his players and, while Scotland battle it out with Germany and Georgia, his stars will be given time off to rest and recuperate.
Miguel Pallardo and Blazej Augustyn, two vital senior players in the Hearts ranks, are also expected to return to full fitness during the pause in domestic action.
However, Neilson is determined to ensure the enter the international week with their 100 per cent league record in tact by defeating Hamilton this afternoon.
“It’s a huge motivation to go into the international break with a 100 per cent record,” said Neilson. “It’s always just about winning every game, today is no different: we want to go to Hamilton, play well and come away with three points.
“And by the time the break is over we should have Miguel Pallardo and Blazej Augustyn back in. I think there are a few of the boys that could do with a rest. It has been a tough month and it will be good to get a wee break.
“They will get a couple of days off after the game on Saturday then a couple of days off next weekend, then it’s about gearing up for Inverness on the Friday night.”
Despite their status as firm favourites against Accies, Neilson is taking nothing for granted after insisting that, in terms of his side’s mentality, this is a tougher fixture than Celtic or Aberdeen.
“It was the same last season. If you want to do well in the league you have to win the games against the so-called underdogs,” continued Neilson.
“It’s important we go there, work hard and get the result. These are are always the hard games – the easy ones are Pittodrie or Parkhead, which take care of themselves because of the atmosphere.”
Neilson, meanwhile, confirmed that out-of-favour midfielder Kenny Anderson is free to leave the club, while they have dropped their interest in Botev Plovdiv starlet Milen Gamakov after head of recruitment John Murray returned from a trip to Bulgaria last weekend unimpressed.
There could, however, still be further additions to the Jambos ranks before the transfer window closes next Monday.
“There are always players being suggested to us and, if it’s someone I think will add value, then we’ll do it.
“Kenny Anderson has found it difficult to get game time. We have a strong group, with boys in that position. It’s a decision Kenny has to make if he wants to play football.
“John Murray was over in Bulgaria watching a player [Milen Gamakov] but wasn’t impressed. It would be a very important signing, a midfielder who needs to be better than what we’ve got and he wasn’t quite what we were looking for.
“But there are always players being put to us and, if it’s someone I think will add value, then we’ll do it.”