Hearts: No agreement on Alloa's artificial playing surface

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson took his players for a training session at Alloa's Recreation Park

Hearts' training session on Alloa's artificial surface has left the club's staff with differing views on the pitch branded "horrible" by Ally McCoist.

Ahead of his side's meeting with the Wasps on Saturday, head coach Robbie Neilson said: "It's smooth and the ball moves quickly on it, so we don't have any issues at all with it."

But forward Dale Carrick is not keen.

"It's quite compacted, there's not much give - it's like playing on concrete," the Hearts forward told BBC Scotland.

Rangers manager McCoist was unimpressed with the Recreation Park pitch after his team were held to a 1-1 draw by the Wasps.

And, in order to familiarise their squad with the surface, Hearts hired Alloa's ground for a training session in midweek.

"It was alright," Neilson added. "It was good to go down and train on it, to get used to it and get an idea what the surface is going to be like.

"It's a different Astroturf from Queen of the South and Falkirk, so it's important we prepare and I knew that you could hire Alloa. It's open to the public, so why not go down and utilise that.

Hearts forward Dale Carrick
"As the artificial pitches get better and better, I think if you're going to have an artificial pitch you have to have the latest one that's out there. The new one is more realistic to what a grass pitch is like"

"If you play on a grass pitch in the summer when it's not rained for a few weeks, it's exactly the same, it's a hard surface."

Carrick, however, reckons Alloa's surface is not one of the better artificial pitches and would prefer to see all games played on grass.

"The pitch was solid, quite tough to train on, but we'll go there and give it our best," he said.

"Artificial surfaces are quite sore on your joints, there's more impact on playing, while grass is more soft.

"I'd say Queens of the South's is more up to date, more spongy. It's easier to play on, it's more like playing on grass, while this is an older one.

"As the artificial pitches get better and better, I think if you're going to have an artificial pitch you have to have the latest one that's out there. The new one is more realistic to what a grass pitch is like.

Hearts forward Dale Carrick
Hearts forward Dale Carrick would prefer to be playing all matches on grass rather than artificial surfaces

"From a young age, sort of under-12s up to under-17s, we play on the Astro up at the academy and I feel that you are getting a lot of hard knocks and you do tend to get a lot of injuries on the Astro.

"I think we should stay back to the roots where we play it on grass. It's better to play on grass than artificial. I'd keep with grass all the way."

With Rangers deciding against playing this weekend due to the international break, Championship-leaders Hearts can go nine points clear of the Ibrox outfit by beating Alloa.

Carrick said opening up such a gap would be great "psychologically", but Neilson downplayed it.

"If we get another win, it's another win and another three points on the board," the head coach said.

"It's important, but there's still a long way to go and it's going to be a difficult game.

"Rangers drew 1-1 and Hibs got beat there, so we know it's a difficult venue to go to."

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