BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Robbie Neilson has warned it will take his cosmopolitan Hearts defence time to find the right blend.
The Tynecastle outfit have revamped their rearguard this summer following the departure of captain Danny Wilson for Rangers, with three of their five new signings being added to the defensive options.
Polish stopper Blazej Augustyn, who was recruited in mid-June, has been joined in the last few weeks by Brazilian defender Igor Rossi and Nigerian World Cup full-back Juwon Oshaniwa.
Having lost two goals to lowly Arbroath in the League Cup and another three in the Premiership opener against St Johnstone, matches in which they still scored four times, the Jambos again looked suspect at the back against Dundee in the first 45 minutes on Saturday.
However, following a half-time reshuffle at Dens Park, which saw skipper Alim Ozturk going back into defence from his unorthodox midfield role, the Gorgie outfit settled and took all three points with Juanma’s second-half double.
Neilson has confessed his players currently look more comfortable in attack than defence, but he insists he is not surprised given the league of nations that, with the inclusion of Scottish pair Neil Alexander and Callum Paterson, makes up his rearguard.
With another test awaiting at home to Motherwell tomorrow (Wednesday), Neilson commented: “We’re looking good going forward but we just need to work on the defensive side of things.
“We worked on it all last week but there’s a lot of new faces coming in and a lot of different styles of play.
“We’ve got a guy coming from Nigeria, a Brazilian, a Pole, a Turk, a Scottish right-back and a Scottish goalkeeper.
“It takes time for them to gel, it does, and it’s something we need to work on.
“It’s difficult this week because we play Wednesday but we need to do bits and bobs to try and get us an understanding of what we need to do.”
Meanwhile, Neilson has praised debutant Oshaniwa and allayed fears over the left-back’s fitness.
The 24-year-old made his Hearts bow on Tayside following a protracted transfer from Ashdod in Israel but had to be replaced with 15 minutes to go.
However, Neilson has revealed the Nigeria internationalist was simply feeling the effects of a testing first taste of Scottish football.
The Gorgie boss added on Hearts TV: “Juwon’s fine, he just cramped up.
“I thought he did fantastic. Attacking-wise, he was great and in the second-half when he played out on the left (of midfield) he was great.
“It was difficult for him in the first-half because he’s getting thrown in and he doesn’t know anybody round about him.
“And with the way we played, with a kind of diamond in there to try and stop Dundee playing, he got exposed a bit two V one. It was difficult for him.
“But, all in all, I thought he did really well, I’m really pleased. To come to Dens Park and be part of a team that wins the game, that’s great.”