BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS’ hopes of arresting their winless streak have been dealt a blow after star defender Igor Rossi was hit with a one-match ban.
Rossi, 27, picked up his sixth Premiership yellow card of the season during Saturday’s breathless 2-2 draw against St Johnstone.
Referee Don Robertson dished out the caution, which triggers an automatic SFA suspension, following a foul on Saints schemer Blair Alston in the closing stages at Tynecastle.
Rossi has been a pivotal figure for the Jambos this term, making 13 appearances, scoring twice and cultivating a promising partnership with Scotland under-21 star John Souttar in the heart of defence.
The Brazilian’s contract is due to expire next summer however Rossi has hinted that he would be willing to commit his future to the Tynecastle outfit, stating at the weekend: “I like it here, I am happy here. The people are very nice to me, my wife is very happy here, too. I would like to stay.”
Deposed club captain Alim Ozturk likely to deputise for Rossi at New Douglas Park.
Meanwhile, head coach Neilson believes Saturday thrilling draw against the Perth outfit only served to underline the parity between the clubs in the chasing pack behind Celtic.
While Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops appear destined to romp to the title, just two points separate Aberdeen in second place and St Johnstone in fifth, with the Jambos currently in fourth spot.
Neilson said: “It’s really tight with ourselves, Rangers, St Johnstone, Aberdeen. We are all going to be around each other for the majority of the season.
“It is going to be that team ‘who is consistent enough to put a run together that pulls away.”