Hearts boss praises Caley counterpart John Robertson for taking time out to deal with family bereavement

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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson insists John Robertson deserves praise for putting family first after temporarily stepping down as Inverness boss.

Caley announced on Monday that the Tynecastle legend had been granted compassionate leave following a family bereavement.

Former Dundee manager Neil McCann has been appointed on an interim basis, with Inverness number two Scott Kellacher still recovering from a serious illness.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson addresses the media | Hearts news
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson addresses the media | Hearts news

Championship leaders Hearts take on the Highland outfit at the Caledonian stadium on Friday in McCann’s first game since taking on the reins.

And in an age when football managers are expected to work through any personal issues behind the scenes, Neilson insists Robertson should be applauded for realising that he had to take a break.

Neilson, who played under Robertson doing his brief stint in charge of Hearts, said: “We all have families, we all have background problems, and it’s a very difficult period for John’s family.

“So it’s a huge credit, first and foremost to John, for taking that decision to step out for a little bit to look after his family.

“And secondly from the club’s perspective, to stand by him and give him that support.

“I know Kell (Scott Kellacher), his assistant, is off with an issue as well just now.

“So it has been a really tough period for them.

“So credit to the board up there and (chief executive) Scot Gardiner that they’ve allowed John to do this.

“I haven’t spoken to John yet. I dropped him a wee Whatsapp message the other day to say we are all thinking about him. 

“It’s a very difficult period for John and his family. 

“I’ve known him for a long time and hopefully we see him back on the touchline as soon as he’s ready.”

Inverness drew 2-2 with Alloa on Tuesday night with coach Barry Wilson in charge and Neilson does not expect former Hearts team-mate McCann to make wholesale changes to personnel and tactics.

He added: “Obviously there will be the wee lift of someone coming in to stand in for John. 

“There’s a quick turnaround of games so there’s not a lot of time there to work on formations and how the team will play. 

“I expect them to play much the same way as they have for the majority of the season.

“I expect Neil to have a bit of continuity in the team. I don’t expect him to come in and start changing formations or personnel too much.”