05 March 2022

Robbie Neilson rues mounting injuries that hindered Hearts in Dundee United draw

05 March 2022

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson admitted in 25 years in football he had never experienced anything like the catalogue of injuries that decimated his team during Saturday’s cinch Premiership draw with Dundee United at Tannadice.

The Jam Tarts had to make five changes because of injuries during the pulsating 2-2 match with Gary Mackay-Steven, Cammy Devlin, Alex Cochrane, John Souttar and Nate Atkinson all having to be replaced with another substitute Josh Ginnelly also struggling at the end of the contest.

Hearts took an early lead through Liam Boyce but United equalised thanks to Liam Smith before making it 2-1 with a Nicky Clark penalty.

The Edinburgh side salvaged a draw near the end with a Craig Halkett header and Neilson admitted he was relatively happy with a point considering all the enforced changes to his line-up.

He said: “I’ve never been involved in something like this in my 25 years in football. It was unbelievable. We started the game really well and then we got injury after injury after injury.

“For us to fight back and get a point, I’m delighted. The whole continuity of the team altered.

“Andy Halliday came on, started at right-back then right wing-back, left-back, left wing-back, central midfield. Boycie was the same, moving everywhere. Peter Haring dropped to centre-half.

“Every sub was an injury. Gary came off then we had to put a defender on.

“It made it difficult but we know how we have to play. We did all right, but not enough to win the game.

“There were that many changes but we dug out a point. We’ve got seven points from a tough week.”

Meanwhile, Tannadice assistant boss Liam Fox admitted United were disappointed to only draw after taking the lead against Hearts.

The result was a blow to the Tangerines’ hopes of a top-six finish as they slipped down to seventh.

However, Fox insisted it would be a test of nerve between now and the end of the season.

He said: “We are disappointed. You have to give Hearts respect because they are the third best team in the country and have some great players.

“But when you are ahead in a game and don’t see it out, especially from a set-piece, you have to feel disappointment.

“It’s shoot-out football between now and the end of the season, it’s so tight.

“If we can get the same attitude and application we have had in the past, we’ll give ourselves a good chance.

“But there are plenty of other teams in the same position who will be thinking the same.”

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