Hearts boss throws his weight behind Partick and Stranraer’s promotion bids

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Robbie Neilson admits he is hoping Partick Thistle and Stranraer can bounce back at the first time of asking just like Hearts.

All three clubs forged a bond in the wake of last year’s controversial decision to demote the teams from the Premiership, Championship and League One receptively on a points per game basis.

That course of action was taken following a hugely contentious vote involving all 42 clubs after football came to a grinding halt in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson | Hearts news
Hearts face Raith in their last game of the season on Friday

Hearts and Thistle even jointly pursued legal action in a bid to overturn the decision, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

The Gorgie side have already wrapped up the second tier title, Thistle can claim the League One crown tonight with victory over Falkirk, while Stranraer are currently in League Two play-off contention.

And Hearts boss Neilson has made it clear that he wants to see Thistle and the Blues succeed.

He said: “I think it would be brilliant. I’m delighted to see Partick kicking into form at the right time. 

“I’m not surprised with Ian McCall there, who is experienced at winning that league.

“It would be good if Stranraer can make the play-offs and get up. We focus on ourselves but we always have an eye on these other teams.

“Our main objective was to get promoted and I think Partick and Stranraer will be the same. 

“Both of them are still in positions where they can do that. It would be great to see them both get up.”

Hearts take on a Raith Rovers team on Friday evening who will be desperate for a victory to clinch second place and a Premiership semi-final play-off spot.

But Neilson insists Hearts are also looking to finish the campaign off on a high.

He added: “There’s a lot riding on it for us as well. We want to go there and win. 

“We had a great result and performance there last time and we’d like to finish off in style.

“We ended the home campaign in style (with victory over Inverses) and we want to try and do that away from home. 

“It’s a game we are looking forward to.”

Neilson, meanwhile, admits talks are ongoing in a bid to convert winger Josh Ginnelly’s loan from Preston in a permanent arrangement.

The pacey forward’s season was ended in January by injury.

Neilson added: “He’s one we want to keep and we’re in conversation at the moment to try and get something put together. 

“He’s enjoyed himself here and we’ve enjoyed having him. 

“We’d have liked to have seen more of him on the pitch but when he is on the pitch, he can light the place up. 

“So our job is to get a contract sorted and try to get him as ready as possible.”