Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson’s admits he is fully behind Perry Kitchen’s Copa America dream



Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson admits he has thrown his full support behind America internationalist Perry Kitchen’s Copa America bid – even though it could disrupt his Europa League plans.

The midfielder has been named in Jurgen Klinsmann’s provisional 40-man squad for next month’s tournament, which is being hosted in the States.

One-time World Cup winner Klinsmann is expected to announce his final 23-man roster at the start of next week and former DC United player Kitchen, who joined Hearts in March, is desperate to be included.

perrykitchen1Neilson is happy for the 24-year-old to join up with his country even though the player could miss the club’s pre-season preparations ahead of their July 30 Europa League first qualifying round clash.

The USA face Group A matches against Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay between June 3 and 11, while the final takes place on the 26th of the month.

Neilson said: “I’m delighted about it to be honest, I spoke to Perry about it.

“A lot of the time, clubs will look at it and think, ‘I’d rather he didn’t go away’. But from my point of view and the club’s point of view I think it’s great for him.

“I said to him we’d back him 100 per cent no matter how long he’s away. We’ll just manage it.

“It’s great for him and it’s good for the prestige of the club and the league that we can get a guy playing in Scotland that is hopefully going to go to the Copa America.

“That would be phenomenal for us. He’s done really for us, I’d like him to get in it.

“It’s probably going to hinder us a little bit in our preparation for the opening games but we need to accept that.

“There are international games for Scotland over the summer as well and I hope some of the boys get involved in that as well because it’s great for them.”

Hamilton (left) with Neil Alexander

Neilson, meanwhile, admits he intends to send goalkeeper Jack Hamilton out on a season-long loan next term despite handing the 22-year-old his first league start of the campaign in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ross County.

Hamilton was handed a rare outing in the meaningless encounter but Neilson reckons a temporary switch away from Tynecastle will benefit the Scotland Under-21 cap.

He added: “I’ve discussed it with Jack. We’re looking to give him some game time this season and then get him out on loan for a year to give him a chance to go and play 35, 40 games.

“Then he comes back and pushes himself as a number one.

“You always hope he will be the natural successor to Neil (Alexander). You can never tell until they get put out on loan and they do well, and they come back and play in front of 17-18,000 consistently every week.

“I hope he is, I think he’s got the potential to be but he has to go and prove it.”

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