Hearts defender wants to emulate previous title glory following Robbie Neilson return

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JAMIE BRANDON wants to emulate Hearts’ rampant class of 2014/15 following the return of Robbie Neilson.

The Jambos raided Premiership new boys Dundee United on Sunday to re-appoint Neilson as their head coach, three-and-a-half years after he quit the club to embark on an ill-fated stint at MK Dons.

The 40-year-old has impeccable Championship pedigree, having won the second tier crown with United and the Jambos.

And that title triumph with Hearts secured the club a place in the record books as – despite having Rangers and Hibernian in the league – they romped to promotion with an all-time high of 91 points.

Brandon, 22, lapped up the performances of young guns such as Sam Nicolson, Jamie Walker and Scotland star Callum Paterson during that campaign and reckons they emerged as more complete players.

That is the blueprint the promising full-back will be seeking to follow if Hearts’ court bid to have their relegation reversed fails and Neilson is charged with guiding the club out of the Championship yet again.

Brandon said: “When the club were last in the Championship it was a great platform for boys to show what they were capable of.

“Robbie [Neilson] gave them that trust and platform.

“Guys like Billy King, Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and Callum Paterson were able to kick on, get assists and goals, and further their careers.

“If we do start next season in the Championship – which looks like it will be the case – I’ll try to turn that into a positive and I can develop as a player.

“Those players and that season need to be the benchmark in terms of trying to get out of the Championship at the first time of asking.

“They won the league convincingly and came out of that campaign better players than they went in, so hopefully we can do the same.”

Brandon, meanwhile, insists the extended lockdown will ensure he is fighting fit in his bid to impress the incoming gaffer.

The former Rangers academy kid suffered an ankle injury in December and did not feature again prior to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent shut-down of Scottish football on March 13.

However, he has now fully recovered and has spent the last three months pounding the pavements and strengthening the area ahead of next term.

Brandon added: “Since lockdown, I’ve been out running and keeping myself fit, and my ankle feels perfect.

“If there’s been any positive, it’s that I’ve had extra time to make sure my injury is 100 per cent healed and get in top condition for coming back.

“It’s just made me more hungry to get back, whenever that may be. I’m raring to go.”

 
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