Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson praises Don Cowie’s impact on and off the pitch



Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has lavished praise on Don Cowie for the impact the midfielder is making both on and off the pitch.

The 33-year-old was named a sponsor’s man of the match in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle after producing a stand out display in his third league start since joining from Wigan last month.

Cowie, who set up Arnuad Djoum for the only goal at the weekend, is getting up to speed after appearing in only five English League One matches for the Latics during the first half of the campaign.

doncowieNeilson is also delighted that the former Inverness, Watford and Cardiff man’s experience is rubbing off on the younger players.

Neilson, whose side closed the gap on second place Aberdeen to six points, said: “He has been great for us, he goes into midfield and bosses the game.

“He is a Scottish international, he has played in the Premier League in England and the Championship.

“He is an experienced player who brings a lot to the club and not just on the pitch, but in the dressing room and on the training field.

“What we got from Don on Saturday is exactly what we get from him every day in training.

“He does exactly what you expect of him.

“He is an experienced player with good technique and has played at a good level.

“I’m really pleased with him and John Souttar, who got the other man of the match award. Both arrived in January have have settled in well.”

Cowie was not the only one who impressed on Saturday. Liam Smith – a player just starting out on his career – delivered another flawless performance in only his second Premiership start.

Smith (left) with Jordan McGhee

The 19-year-old is currently filling in for injured right-back Callum Paterson.

Neilson added: “He does exactly what I expect him to do.

“It would have been easy to put Jordan McGhee, Blazej Augustyn or John Souttar there but I just felt the way the games were coming and the teams we were playing against, it was a good opportunity to put him in and he’s a seven or eight out of ten guy every week.”

Neilson, meanwhile, is hoping the groin injury that forced defender Igor Rossi off after 79 minutes is not serious.

Neilson added: “He had a wee issue with his groin after Tuesday night and it started flaring up again.

“But he’s now got a free week that we can get him ready for the game at Dundee because he’s an important player for us.”