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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson believes hungry players have led to good start

Hearts of Midlothian v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson feels hunger has been the main ingredient in his side’s impressive start to the season.

Neilson’s side will go top of the cinch Premiership table on Saturday if they get a result against Dundee and extend their unbeaten league record.

The club have supplemented experienced players such as Craig Gordon, Michael Smith and Liam Boyce with an influx of younger players who are determined to succeed and the recipe is working.

The likes of Alex Cochrane, Beni Baningime, Cammy Devlin, Ben Woodburn and Barrie McKay have made their mark as the Championship title winners challenge at the top of the table.

When asked what had most pleased him Neilson said: “If I had to pick one I would say they are hungry. We have a group of guys whether they are young players, hungry to do well in their career or senior players who are hungry for continued success, it’s a good group.”

Neilson admits getting that assurance about his new players’ characters was a crucial part of his summer recruitment.

“We will speak to the players first and foremost, we will speak to coaches, people who have worked with, players who have worked with them as well,” Neilson said.

“For me, the majority of guys who are round about the first teams in the Premier League and even the Championship are all very good players, because it’s a great level.

“It’s what is their character like? Can they come up here and integrate into the way Scottish football is and the lifestyle up here, because it is different.

“We do a lot of work on it and thankfully so far the guys we have brought in have fitted in well.”

Neilson got further reassurance from one-on-one chats with his prospective new recruits.

“It’s probably the most important thing,” he added.

“Obviously we had issues last season and even in the summer so it’s difficult to get them up one on one, but even on Zoom, if you can sit down in front of someone you can usually get a feel for them, and we have managed to do that.”