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Robbie Neilson lays down a challenge to Hearts squad and explains Istanbul plan plus injury latest




“We had a lot more games than everyone else and we had to travel all over Europe,” Neilson said. “We travel on Wednesday [to Istanbul]play Thursday night then return to Tynecastle to play again on Sunday [against Motherwell].

“You ask the players to leave and there are a number of them who take blows. If we had a full squad they wouldn’t have played, but they’re out there putting their bodies on the line.

“There are guys who maybe aren’t with us but they go there to do a job because we don’t have anyone else. We had all the senior professional players and we added some young boys to fill us in. Our goal is to reach this third position before the World Cup. If we can do that, it will be absolutely exceptional because at that time we will start to bring others back. It will only be [Beni] Baningime and [Liam] Boyce with their crucias. The others should all be back.

“Third, it’s where we want to be. We have another game next week and depending on what happens in Pittodrie on Friday night, we could potentially have a chance to move up to third. Today we were two games down, but the league is still too tight, so if you win three games in one go, you can move up to third. With all those games and injuries, it’s all about getting to the World Cup break in the best possible place. Then I would expect us to go for it.

“Aberdeen and Hibs are good teams this year with good managers. Our target is to get third place in the league. We want European football and if we want that we have to balance that by playing Europe on a Thursday night. .

Neilson was delighted with Hearts’ resilience against bottom-of-the-table County. “It’s always difficult here,” he said. “They’re a good team, even though they’re going through a tough time in the league. It was the same last year and they got into the top six, so we knew what we were going to get from a Malky Mackay team. They are very strong defensively and there is good energy in the middle and a strength that makes things difficult for us. We’re really happy to get the three points and it brings us up a bit in the league, closer to where we want to be.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay with Hearts manager Robbie Neilson at Dingwall.

Hearts’ next mission is their final Europa Conference League Group A game against Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey. Neilson stressed that he won’t field a weakened team despite knowing his team is already out. “They’re a tough team to face and that’s why we have to go all out. If we don’t, we are in trouble. We’ll see who’s available and we’ll bring out the strongest team. There’s no pressure on us, it’s just a matter of being able to get out there and get the ball, pass it and work hard to stay tight defensively. We have to try to go and enjoy the game.”

When asked if any of the injured players would be available, he replied: “Peter Haring should be back. His concussion should work itself out. There are a few running around but we’ll see if it’s worth the risk or not. Hopefully we’ll see more for Sunday.

Neilson’s Ross County counterpart, Mackay, was unhappy with several calls during the game, including a disallowed first base. “I asked for clarification on the disallowed goal as we didn’t know who was offside for that one,” he explained. “The clarity we have is that it was Owura-Edwards on the other side, which I want them to check because I’ve watched him ten times and at no time is he less than five yards away. be offside.

“So if the officials here made a mistake, I don’t know. VAR obviously looked for something and found it, I get it, but we’d like some clarification on what it was. There seems to be a misunderstanding for it to be offside.

“We scored and then we had five minutes where we lost two goals – although I have players who claim two handballs in the build-up. Ginnelly’s hand was up then Kio’s shoulder so we wonder why something is not reported up there.

“Overall, we have to get used to swallowing it. It’s just the clarity we’re looking for. I was at the VAR center two weeks ago and spent two hours with Crawford Allan and his team. Either way, it’s a good thing for Scottish football and it’s just one of those things. I will have a conversation with them tomorrow, just for clarity, and if they tell me, then fair play.