BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists there is still a lot more to come from his team despite being delighted with how they have coped on their return to the Premiership.
In beating Dundee United last Sunday to move back up to third place in the top-flight, the Tynecastle outfit completed their first round of fixtures against their league rivals.
From those eleven matches, last season’s Championship winners won six (five of them in their first five games of the campaign), drew two and lost three.
One of those victories came against tomorrow’s opponents Ross County and Neilson admits he is content with his team’s start to the season ahead of the visit of the Staggies.
He said: “I’m delighted with the position we are sitting in considering we got promoted during the summer. We had a great start, it got a wee bit difficult but the performances have still been there.
“Our objective is to get into the top six and that’s what we want to do. We’re sitting in the top six, we’re sitting in third position so it’s been a good start but there is still a long way to go.
“From where we are at the moment, there is still a lot more to come.”
Neilson has been particularly pleased with how youngsters Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker, Callum Paterson and Billy King have adapted to the top-flight.
He added: “There have been loads of pluses. The young players that we have, Nicholson, King, Walker, Paterson – guys like that all being able to step up and perform well. These are plus points.
“The new guys coming in too, it’s taken them a bit of time to bed in but they’re getting there and they’re starting to learn how the Scottish game is played, how to communicate a bit better as well. Their English is getting better.”
Arnaud Djoum is Hearts’ newest recruit and Neilson could turn to the Belgian midfielder, whose only appearance has come as a substitute in last month’s goal-less draw at Celtic, for the weekend if Miguel Pallardo fails to shake off a calf knock.
He added: “Djoum’s doing really well. I was really close to starting him at Tannadice but I decided to go with something slightly different. He was unlucky not to play on Sunday.
“He’s impressed me in training and in the Under-20s. He’s a good player and a good type. Once he gets in there and starts playing, he’ll be a good asset for us.”