Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson delighted his training ground resembles a ghost town



Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists the fact that the club’s training ground resembles a ghost town proves that the team are making great strides on the park.

As many as eight of the Tynecastle squad are currently on international duty after impressing during the opening weeks of the season.

Jack Hamilton, Callum Paterson and Tony Watt are all with Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier in Malta, while John Souttar, Sam Nicholson and Liam Smith are away with the Under-21s.

robbieneilsonFurther afield, left-back Faycal Rherras earned a maiden call-up to Morocco, and midfielder Arnaud Djoum was selected by Cameroon.

Neilson is thrilled that so many of his players have been recognised by their respective countries and insists it is consistent with the progress the team is making as a whole in their second season back in the top-flight.

He said: “Stevie Crawford (Hearts assistant coach) and I were speaking about it in training with regards to the players that are left.

“It just shows how much the squad has improved in the last couple of years because previously in the international breaks we had very few people away.

“Even in the guys that aren’t away on international duty are quality players; the likes of Bjorn Johnsen, Robbie Muirhead and Perry Kitchen are guys with real quality.

“The boys that are still here will get the weekend off, then they’ll get back in and we’ll get ready for the Hamilton game.

“We’ve still got a few guys away next week because the 21s play on the Tuesday and also Arnaud and Faycal have to get themselves back from their respective countries, so that will be Wednesday before they’re back in.”

While the international call-ups reflect well on the club, Neilson is keeping his fingers crossed that all his players come through their matches unscathed.

He added: “The one thing about that though is that you hope they don’t pick up knocks, but they could just as easily get knocks staying here at training.

“We have to let them go and enjoy themselves and hopefully they come back in good condition.”