“There’s not much squad left” – Neilson provides injury update after European win

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson bemoaned his side’s injury woes while heaping praise on Toby Sibbick as Hearts prevailed over RFS. Seán McGill reports from Tynecastle Park.

Despite being pleased with Hearts’ Europa Conference League victory over RFS on Saturday, Robbie Neilson has expressed frustration with his side’s seemingly constant injury issues. 

Stephen Kingsley limped off midway through the second half after the Jambos had raced into an early lead thanks to goals from Lawrence Shankland and Andy Halliday, before Kevin Friesenbichler pulled one back for the Lartvians. 

Neilson said: “He’s just tweaked his hamstring a wee bit, so we’ll see the next couple of days. It just seems to be one wee niggle after another with players. Lewis (Neilson) came on and did really well, so we’ll see ahead of Sunday. 

“To be honest, there’s not going to be much rotating. There’s not much squad left at the moment. We knew it was going to be a tough schedule – 26 games in the first three months of the season. We’ve still got a lot of hard games to play in. We’ve just got to take one at a time. 

“We’ve got a good group of young players here. We might take a couple up on Sunday, we just need to wait and see who’s available.”

One young player who finally felt the warm embrace of the Gorgie faithful was Toby Sibbick, whose immense man of the match performance sent Tynecastle into raptures. Neilson said the defender must now reach those heights more frequently. 

“Toby’s had a hard time recently. When he came in, he’s probably not hit the levels consistently but there’s been flashes of what we had tonight.”

“To his credit, he’s worked hard, he’s waited for his opportunity. He’s came in tonight to European football and performed like that. He just has to maintain the intensity, the aggression and the concentration because there’s no doubting his ability.”

With a tough trip to Dingwall looming on Sunday, before a cross-continental venture to Istanbul in a week, the Hearts gaffer feels his side will have to step up from their performance over the country of the 90 on Thursday. 

“I was delighted with the first 15/20 minutes. We started with a lot iof intensity. We got the fans behind us, we got the two goals, and then we took our foot off the gas. We allowed RFS tio get into the game. 

“I think we can be better on the ball. When you play at this level, you can’t turn the ball over as much as we did. If we do that against Instanbul next week, we’ll be in trouble. 

“We target trying to win every game – how realistic that is, I don’t know. We try to bring that mentality that we want to try and win it. I’m delighted to get the two wins. It’s great for the players – the belief that we can play at this level, win at this level.  

“We’ve now got a massive game on Saturday at Ross County to try and get our league campaign started and then we go to Istanbul next Thursday.”

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