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Robbie Neilson has high hopes for Hearts’ two-goal loan star Ben Woodburn

Robbie Neilson File Photo
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Robbie Neilson expects Ben Woodburn to go from strength to strength after the on-loan Liverpool attacker scored his first Hearts goals.

The 22-year-old moved to Tynecastle in the summer and finally broke his duck with a double in an impressive 5-2 victory over Dundee United.

Neilson believes the relief of getting off the mark will see him kick on in a maroon jersey.

He said: “I’m delighted for Ben. He’s a top player. We see it every day in training but he just needed that release of getting the goal.

“He’s been putting a lot of pressure on himself to come up here and score goals, and I think the goals were the final thing he needed to release him.

“I felt after his first goal, he flourished. He’s a top player so when the ball fell in the box like that (for his second goal), he’s one of the few in the team you’d expect to score it.

“I’m really pleased for him and I think we’ll see more of him now.”

Hearts produced a brilliant performances as further goals from Alex Cochrane, Stephen Kingsley and substitute Aaron McEneff helped them move three points clear of United and above Celtic – overnight at least – into second place in the cinch Premiership.

Neilson was pleased to see his side bounce back so strongly after their first league defeat of the season at Aberdeen last weekend.

He said: “Parts of the game we played really well. After the disappointment of last week, to come back and have that belief again.

“I thought we played well. I was disappointed to lose the two goals because they weren’t great goals but all in, a decent day.”

Neilson was encouraged that his side managed to score five without injured top scorer Liam Boyce.

He said: “A lot of people say what are we going to be like, what are we going to do (without Boyce), but we’ve got some good quality.

“The decision today was, do we go with Armand (Gnanduillet) for his physicality, or (Josh) Ginnelly for his pace? But we felt that, playing against Ryan Edwards and Charlie Mulgrew, the pace of Ginnelly would help us, and it did.”

United manager Tam Courts rued the manner in which the game got away from his side.

He said: “I thought in the first 20 minutes we started really well and were on the front foot but we needed somebody to grab it and help us get the breakthrough.

“But after that we became really loose. Hearts got the breakthrough and then the second one thereafter.

“We got a bit of a lifeline going in at 2-1 but I always felt we were chasing the game. It was never a game we were in control of.”