BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
HEAD coach Robbie Neilson insists Hearts will be ready for next week’s Europa League opener after stepping up their preparations with a friendly defeat to Premiership rivals Aberdeen.
The Tynecastle side fielded separate line-ups in each half for the second consecutive day following Wednesday night’s victory over Welsh Champions League competitors The New Saints.
The Gorgie men followed up that 3-2 victory with a 1-0 loss against Aberdeen, but Neilson was content with what he saw ahead of Thursday’s first-leg against Estonians FC Infonet in their Europa League first-round qualifier.
Neilson ran the rule over trialist keepers Danny Amos and Viktor Noring, who were both afforded 45 minutes each to impress, whilst new signings Conor Sammon, Faycal Rherras and Robbie Muirhead continued to settle in to life with the Jambos.
Shay Logan’s first-half header separated the teams at the end of a competitive 90 minutes but Hearts should have at least earned a draw after Arnaud Djoum struck the crossbar with a penalty after the break.
Neilson said: “It’s been good. The boys have played 45 minutes on Wednesday night and 45 minutes again today.
“Today was a tough one, we played a young team in the first-half and in the second-half a more experienced team.
“Sometimes if you play a foreign team that’s over here it’s low key but the players were at it, so it was good.
“It’s important for the players to get game-time and that we try to build for the rest of the week left and we’re ready for the European game.
“We’ll definitely be ready for next week – we’ll need to be.”