BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson hopes Morgaro Gomis will be available to face Kilmarnock tomorrow evening after admitting his absence was felt during Sunday’s defeat to Aberdeen.
The 30-year-old missed his second successive fixture following the passing of his father in Africa.
He was initially expected to return to Scotland on Saturday and feature against the Dons 24 hours later, however the funeral service was delayed until Monday, meaning Neilson had to alter his plans for the visit of the league leaders.
While Neilson acknowledges that football must take a back seat following a family bereavement, Gomis’ influence was certainly missed in the 3-1 defeat at Tynecastle as Aberdeen dominated the encounter.
Miguel Pallardo, making his first appearance since May 2, was rusty, while Prince Buaben toiled without the defensive cushion provided by his midfield pal.
However, Gomis is due to touch down in Edinburgh this morning and Neilson is ready to field him against Killie in tomorrow’s League Cup clash.
“Morgaro was out of the country at the weekend, just outside of Senegal,” the Hearts boss explained.
“He thought the funeral would be last Friday, but it was been delayed until Monday. It has taken some time.
“He is hopeful he will fly in on Tuesday morning and hopefully we will have him for Wednesday night.
“It was a blow not to have him [against Aberdeen] and he is a really big character in the team. However, as should always be the case, his family has to take priority.”
Tomorrow night’s duel with former Hearts boss Gary Locke provides an immediate opportunity to end a three-game losing run – the club’s worst sequence of results since March 2014, when Locke was in charge of the Jambos.
A triumph would also serve as a welcome confidence boost ahead of a daunting trip to champions Celtic on Saturday.
“We want to go down to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night and win – hopefully that will set us up well for going to Parkhead,” Neilson continued.
“Sunday has certainly given us things we need to work on. Our delivery needs to be better and we have to be switched on at all times, defensively.”
Meanwhile, Hearts director of football Craig Levein is determined to take the positives from the second half against Aberdeen and insists the capital club will improve.
He tweeted: “No excuses. Switched off defensively 3 times in 1st half and it was costly. Better 2nd half and lots of improvement to come.”