Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists his players will work through their summer



Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson admits his team are facing such a quick turnaround this summer that he expects the players to work right through their holidays.

With Rangers and Hibs confirmed as the Scottish Cup finalists, Hearts now know that they will begin their Europa League campaign in the first qualifying round on June 30.

Hearts are scheduled to return to pre-season training 15 days earlier, meaning the players will only have a four week break in total.

But with Neilson anticipating that they will be drawn with European opponents that are already half-way through their own campaign, he has stressed to the players that they must keep themselves in shape during their down time.

robbieneilsonThat means the squad will have access to the facilities at their Heriot-Watt University training base throughout the summer.

Neilson, whose team travel to Motherwell tomorrow, said: “Knowing who is in the final means our pre-season dates are now pretty much confirmed.

“And that means we can start getting things booked and organised.

“The players will get a month off.

“Then they’ll come back and we’ll have a quick pre-season and get ready for the first games.

“Then it’s just managing it through the course of pre-season until the league starts.

“And there will be important games right at the start of the season for us.

“The European games will generally be against teams in the middle of their season.
“So we’ll need to be ready.

“The players will need to do some work over the close season.

“This place will stay open right through, the players will come in a couple of days a week to make sure they don’t lose any fitness.”


A prolonged run in Europe will naturally see Hearts play more games next season but Neilson does not plan to carry an enlarged squad.

And the former club captain expects his summer recruitment plans to be rubber-stamped at a meeting with owner Ann Budge and director of football Craig Levein today.

Neilson added: “Will we need a bigger squad? Probably not to be honest with you.

“The question you ask yourself is do you want a bigger squad with less quality or a smaller squad with more?

“We need to balance it off.

“Yes, we will probably need more players but I feel we have guys coming through like Angus Beith, Robbie Buchanan, Liam Smith and Dario Zanatta who can add to the squad so we don’t need to bring too many in.

“We know the budget and we know what time we are coming back now.

“I have been looking at it the last few weeks and I’ll go in on Friday and have a chat with Ann and Craig and say this is what I think we need to do and we’ll take it from there.

“It’s important the quality of the squad goes up when we bring someone in and we will be bringing players in.”