Hearts boss discusses Championship’s collective responsibility during pandemic

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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson insists all ten Championship clubs have a collective responsibility to ensure that the season does not come under threat from Covid-19.

The Tynecastle outfit are on course to seal an immediate return to the Premiership following last term’s controversial relegation from the curtailed top-flight.

Hearts were relieved that the second tier was spared when the Scottish FA recently decided to suspend all lower league football until the end of the month.

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson speaks to media after Dundee loss | Hearts news
Hearts are set to welcome Raith on Saturday

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell also asked the Championship clubs last Friday whether they wanted to pause the league, but that offer has been knocked back.

Hearts have not been immune to the pandemic, with players Michael Smith and Josh Ginnelly having only recently recovered from the virus.

Saturday’s opponents Raith Rovers also had to postpone last weekend’s visit of Inverness due to an outbreak at Stark’s Park.

And Neilson insists each club needs to be beyond reproach in dealing with the ongoing pandemic.

Neilson said: “We’ve been given £500,000 each so it’s more than enough for teams to test and see it through.

“It’s now the responsibility of each club, each manager but also the players individually that they make sure they follow the protocols

“I really, really hope our players do that. We’ve spoken to our players about it, they understand and every other player should be the same.

“Every player and coach has a responsibility to make sure they follow all the protocols and make sure they are right, make sure they don’t put themselves in a situation where they don’t jeopardise the league at all.

“We have reiterated that to the players that that’s what they have to do.

“They have to make sure that they look after themselves because we have to provide entertainment to the fans.”

Neilson, meanwhile, has hinted that forward Steven Naismith is likely to return to the starting eleven for Saturday’s clash with Raith.

The Scotland cap was an unused substitute for last weekend’s 3-1 win on the artificial pitch at Alloa, a result that stretched Hearts’ lead at the summit to seven points

Neilson added: “Naisy isn’t that keen on playing on the astros. 

“We felt he was there if we needed him. 

“He will be back for the games on grass. 

“It was nice to be able to win a game comfortably without having to turn to him on the astro.”

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Hearts have been told they will have to increase their offer for Elijah Adebayo if they want to land the Walsall striker this month.

The Tynecastle club have been in touch with their English League Two counterparts regarding Adebayo’s availability.

But reports south of the border state that their initial offer was knocked back.

Even though the 23-year-old is in the final six months of his deal, it is thought that the Saddlers are determined not to lose the player on the cheap.

At 6ft 4”, the former Fulham trainee fits the profile of a goal scoring target man that Hearts manager Robbie Neilson is keen to land this month.

Adebayo has scored eight goals in 27 appearances this season and is regarded as a key player in manager Darrell Clarke’s play-off push, having started 23 of Walsall’s 24 league games.