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Robbie Neilson urges Hearts to play ‘on the front foot’ against Rangers

Heart of Midlothian v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Robbie Neilson believes his high-flying Hearts players possess the bravery to go to Ibrox and play “on the front foot” in Saturday’s top-of-the-table showdown with Rangers.

The Tynecastle side are a point behind their hosts and are the only unbeaten side in the cinch Premiership this term.

Neilson has seen enough from his team so far to feel that they are equipped to travel to Glasgow with attacking intent, as opposed to taking a cautious approach against Steven Gerrard’s side.

The manager said: “First and foremost, we have to have belief. We have to play the way we have all season, which is on the front foot. We have to get our good players into good areas.

“I hope we can go there and keep the ball for periods. You go there with a gameplan but you need to stick to it. I think the players are brave enough to go and do it because they’ve shown it so far this season but there will be periods when Rangers have the ball.

“We have to understand that. We have to try and find ways to get the ball off them and when we do get it, we need to have the composure to keep it. For me it’s about believing they can go and do it, and then carrying it out.

“We can talk all week and do our work on the training field but when you step out there on the pitch, with the intensity, 52,000 fans there, good players playing against you, can we carry out the gameplan and get to our levels? I believe we can because we’ve got good players and the majority of them have experienced it in big venues.

“We’ve got a good chance but it’s a test for the players. It certainly helps when you’re on an unbeaten run and our objective is to try and continue that.”

Neilson – who has a full-strength squad to select from – watched Edinburgh rivals Hibernian the lead at Ibrox before having Ryan Porteous and succumbing to a 2-1 defeat before the international break.

He said: “I went to the game and I thought Hibs did well. They pressed the game well and put Rangers under pressure but you’ve got to do it for 90 minutes, not 30 minutes. That’s the key. And you need to keep 11 men on the pitch.”