Hearts V Motherwell at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

15 January 2016 06:34
Hearts V Motherwell - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Scottish football should adopt the Hearts template - Robbie Neilson

Robbie Neilson insists Scottish football should copy Hearts and match muscle with flair if it wants to rediscover its competitive edge abroad.

The Jambos manager was irked last week after Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes and Murray Davidson of St Johnstone highlighted his side's physical approach.

But Motherwell boss Mark McGhee added further fuel to the fire ahead of his side's Ladbrokes Premiership trip to Gorgie when he claimed Neilson had adopted "a very robust style of game".

But the Hearts head coach has again leapt to the defence of his players - accusing their critics of confusing physicality with athleticism.

And he claims Gordon Strachan's national side as well as Scotland's clubs would do better against foreign opposition if they could back up their ability with brawn.

"I don't see it as disrespectful," said Neilson. "I'm actually pleased people are saying that about us. I'd rather people were saying the good things about us rather than commenting on the bad things.

"I think athleticism is a very good thing. For a long time Scottish football hasn't had it.

"That's why we struggle in Europe or in the international game. Scotland go away and play against teams that are all big athletic players. We have to be like that as well.

"People sometimes focus on these things because we're not used to having big athletic players in Scotland. We're used to having guys at 5ft 4ins or 5ft 5ins.

"You need to have guys who are strong and also guys who have that technical ability. As soon as they guys here have both, they are away down to England.

"There's no point us having a team full of Scottish guys who aren't as strong, as quick or as athletic as the guys they might face down south."

Midfielder Morgaro Gomis returns from suspension for the visit of Motherwell, while midfielder Jamie Walker will return to training next week as he steps up his recovery from knee surgery.

Otherwise, Neilson has no fitness concerns.

Winger Marvin Johnson insists Motherwell are not worried about a repeat of last season's relegation play-off drama as they attempt to force their way into the top six.

The Steelmen currently sit eighth in the Ladbrokes Premiership ahead of this weekend's trip to Edinburgh to take on Hearts.

Confidence is high following a string of impressive results and, rather than contemplating another relegation battle, Johnson believes Well should be unwilling to settle for anything less than the top half of the table.

He said: "We've not really seen ourselves as a bottom-six team. We all know that.

"We know we are a top-six side and we should be pushing for that now. What happened last season is always in the back of your mind but the club should never have been in that situation in the first place.

"Things like that happen in football but we had the courage to get ourselves out of it in the two games.

"We just have to keep looking forward now and push as hard as we can."

Motherwell will be without suspended skipper Keith Lasley, while the Lanarkshire side have also seen their ranks depleted by the departure of Liam Grimshaw following his loan spell from Manchester United.

Boss McGhee has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Tynecastle.

Source: PAR