BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ROBBIE Neilson insists he could not stand in Jordan McGhee’s way after admitting he expects the Hearts defender to seal a season-long loan move to Middlesbrough.
Frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities, the 19-year-old was poised to join the Teesside outfit in January before the switch fell through just minutes before the transfer window closed.
However, despite winning promotion to the Premier League, ‘Boro have resurrected their interest in the versatile defender and the Scotland under-21 internationalist has expressed his desire to make the move.
With a deal likely to be finalised on Tuesday, Neilson explained: “We’re in talks with Middlesbrough about Jordan going down there on a loan deal.
“It’s something that came up in the January transfer window and it didn’t quite happen for him.
“He was keen to go and do it again. He wants to go down and we’re not going to stand in his way. That’s part of football.
“We were already looking for a defender anyway. It just means we’ll have to try to get someone in.
“We’ve already got good young players coming through who can cover at the moment, through pre-season, but we will be looking to add another player in that department.”
Neilson, who expects an answer within the next ‘couple of days’ from Swedish trialist goalkeeper Viktor Noring on a contract offer, was speaking as he finalised preparations for Hearts’ Europa League trip to face FC Infonet in their first round qualifier in Estonia.
The Gorgie side have a slender 2-1 advantage following Thursday’s first-leg at Tynecastle but the Jambos head coach believes his players will be in better shape all round for Wednesday’s return match.
He added: “We’ve got more of an idea now of what we’re facing. Before the first-leg, you’re going into the unknown and you don’t know what it’s going to be like, the levels that they’re at and the levels we’re at.
“It was a tough game for us. They showed they’re a really good team at Tynecastle and we were off it a bit.
“Hopefully another week’s training and preparation, and getting that 90 minutes under our belts, will help us in the coming game.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll see a better performance from Hearts on Wednesday.
“Playing a competitive game really helps us, it gets that rustiness out of the way and gets the fitness levels up, and we’ve had a week’s training to prepare since.
“I’m pretty sure there will be a better tempo to the game than we managed on Thurdsday.”
Infonet’s away goal ensures the second-leg is poised precariously, with Hearts knowing a 1-0 defeat will send them out at the first hurdle.
And Neilson insists he will not charge his players with trying to defend their narrow lead in Tallinn.
He explained: “We need to go and try to score a goal.
“We’re not going to be too gung-ho but we need to try to attack and score a goal, and if we can score a goal then it puts a lot of pressure on them.
“The away goal makes a lot of difference. That’s the disappointing thing about the other night.
“A 2-0 win would have been great but 2-1 makes it more difficult. But we’re still in a good position.”