BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists his team’s bid to secure a top six finish will be on course should they manage to survive this month’s daunting run of fixtures.
Matches against three of the top four sides in the Premiership – Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Celtic – are sandwiched between clashes with Inverness and Dundee United during December.
Hearts remain on track to finish in the top half of the league despite back-to-back draws with Dundee and Motherwell seeing Neilson’s side being pushed down to third place by the Dons.
Neilson, however, acknowledges that they will be in a strong position to realise their target if they can emerge from the forthcoming matches unscathed.
He said: “We always knew that December was going to be a tough month for us, it was the same as September.
“We’ve got the same run of difficult games. If we can get through these sitting in a good position then it bodes well for the rest of the season.
“We’d still need to take care of other teams and pick up points.
“We’re still a team that’s developing. We’re sitting in a good position at the moment and if we can do that (finish in top six) great, it means we can build for next year again to try and get even further up.
“You reasses your expectations every week; we’re sitting very well, sitting above where we probably expected to be at the minute.”
Neilson admits January will also be a critical month for the club after conceding that he is bracing himself for bids for his players.
Callum Paterson is among those that have not looked out of place back in the top-flight, with the right-back even being tipped for Scotland recognition.
Neilson added: “January will be a big month for us, the window opens and it depends what happens with our players.
“We don’t need to sell but I expect offers to come in because the players have played so well, and it’s where we go from there.”