BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ROBBIE Neilson is confident Hearts’ early European kick-off will have his side ‘raring to go’ for their thrilling Premiership opener against Celtic.
The Tynecastle outfit get the competitive action under way on June 30 in their Europa League first round qualifier and will be hopeful of having three home-and-away ties under their belts by the time Celtic visit on the weekend of August 6.
Following up the visit of the champions, Hearts then travel to face Aberdeen, the team they pushed hard in the race for second in the table last season.
The anticipation of an intriguing domestic season ahead will only add to the excitement already bubbling thanks to the Gorgie club’s return to European football in under a fortnight’s time.
And, with around 14,000 season tickets sold, Neilson insists his players will be right up for the challenge after returning to pre-season training this week.
The head coach said: “A visit from the reigning champions is a cracking way to start the season. These are the games you want to be involved in and it will be a great test for us.
“All going well, we will have had several European matches under our belt by the time the opening day comes around.
“I think that will stand us in good stead and we’ll be raring to go come August 6th.
“It will be another fantastic atmosphere in front of a packed Tynecastle. You only need to look at the number of season tickets we’ve sold to get an idea of the level of excitement surrounding the club.
“We’ll be backed by another incredible home support on the day.
“The boys are back in training now and we have a busy summer ahead. As well as looking forward to a European challenge we can now also look ahead to what will be a great opening day fixture, closely followed by another big game away to Aberdeen.”