Robbie Neilson insists Hearts having the best training facility in the country will help lure new players

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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists having the best training facility in Scotland will greatly improve his prospects of recruiting signing targets.

The £33 million National Performance Centre for Sport is due to open in August at Heriot-Watt University and as part of the club’s existing agreement at the Riccarton campus, the facilities will be made available to the Gorgie outfit.

The centre will include an indoor full-sized 3G football pitch with seating for 500, two goalkeeper training areas areas with floodlights, a 100-station fitness suite, a high performance medical centre and hydrotherapy pool, as well as strength and conditioning and treatment areas.

HERIOT WATT ORIAM
An artist’s impression of what the centre will look like

Hearts struck a 25-year lease arrangement with the university when they moved to their current base in the then newly constructed £6.5 million sports complex in summer 2004.

Neilson, who has been linked with goalkeeper Matt Gilks, defender Faycal Rherras and striker Conor Sammon this summer, reckons Hearts will be the envy of clubs around the country when the new centre opens in two month’s time.

He said: “I think it is due to open at the start of August. We come back in the middle of June so we’ll have some of the facilities here before it opens up.

“But once it opens up it will be great, not only for the academy, but also great for recruiting players.

“What do we not have here now? We have everything we need. Everything.

“It’s a great selling point for players because basically we just say to them, ‘everything is here for you. It’s up to you now’.

“It’s up to them to go and work hard and do things right and then they’ll progress.

“They’ll want for nothing in this place.

“It’s great, we couldn’t ask for anymore. We’ll have the best facility in Scotland in terms of what any Premiership team has got and for us to be based here is great.

“We’ve been here for over ten years now but now we’re taking it to the next step again.”

As a young player at Hearts, Neilson remembers the days of the squad using public parks to train, particularly at Pinkie in Musselburgh.

He added: “It’s not like years ago when you’re looking around trying to find a pitch here and there, travelling everywhere and changing at Tynecastle.

“It’s night and day compared to what I was used to. You would arrive at the back of eight in the morning, get the mini-bus down to Pinkie, train there, get packed up and travel all the way back.

“You’re spending three hours travelling and then you need to travel home but now the boys are based here and this is it.

“The boys live near here so they can come in from half 8 in them morning to half five at night.”

Asked if players are in danger of being too pampered, Neilson said: “It’s probably why the foreign teams are so far ahead of us because they’ve had these facilities for the last 30 years.

“We’ve had it for over ten years and we’re one of the first ones to do it, everyone else is starting to do it now.”

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