ROBBIE NEILSON insists Hearts can finally focus on football as he prepares to welcome his players back for a marathon two-month pre-season.
The Jambos’ Championship status was rubber-stamped on Monday when they lost their arbitration case against the SPFL following a protracted battle.
And head coach Neilson is wasting no time in preparing the clubs’ bid to escape the second tier at the first time of asking.
The Hearts players will return to training next week ahead of the October 6 start date of the Betfred Cup – around a fortnight earlier than many of their Championship rivals.
As well as ensuring his stars are ready for the start of that competition and the beginning of the abridged league campaign, Neilson is keen to ensure they are not caught cold in their Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs at the end of October.
Neilson told Hearts’ official website: “I’m delighted that we’re now on the verge of returning to training.
“A lot of hard work has gone into preparing for every outcome of the arbitration process, but now that is over we can fully focus on getting everyone back in, get them fit and be in a position to start winning games of football.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the players and working with them. There are some big talents in there and we need to all be pulling in the same direction, which I know we will.
“There is a lot to be excited about this season. Not getting to play in front of our fans is blow but it’ll be all the sweeter when we get to run out in front of them once it’s safe for everyone to return to stadiums.
“For the next eight weeks, it’s about working hard and being in the best shape possible come October.”
Hearts will comply with twice-weekly Covid-19 testing protocols as they return to their Riccarton training base.
Players and staff will be unable to interact with anyone out-with the club so autograph and selfie-hunting supporters have been warned to stay away from Oriam.