Hearts: Robbie Neilson targets a top-six Premiership finish

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Sport
Robbie Neilson (centre) with the Scottish Championship flag
Hearts will unfurl the title flag on Sunday
Scottish Premiership: Hearts v St Johnstone
Venue: Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Sunday 2 August Kick-off: 12:30 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Robbie Neilson says a top-six Scottish Premiership finish would be success this season for Hearts.

Neilson's side will unfurl the Championship flag at home on Sunday before taking on St Johnstone in their first game back in the top flight.

"We want to get to the top six and I think we've got a squad capable of getting there and hopefully get a decent cup run," said the head coach.

"I think we're prepared. We've got a good squad in."

Neilson was critical of his side's performance as they opened their season with a 4-2 win over Arbroath in the Scottish League Cup on Thursday.

Hearts were 1-0 down at half-time to the League Two side and their manager stressed that they would have to improve in time for Sunday's opening league game at home to St Johnstone.

"There are always expectations when you are a club of Hearts' size and there should be expectations," Neilson told BBC Scotland.

"We've got to remember that we're a Championship team who got promoted in the summer.

Hearts celebrate as they defeat Arbroath
Hearts were given a fright before defeating Arbroath 4-2 on Thursday

"We're back in the top flight, it is going to be difficult, but we want to try to get top six - that's where we want to be.

"That's where we believe we can be this season and then hopefully build from there."

None of Hearts' summer signings started against Arbroath, with defender Blazej Augustyn rested and forwards Juanma and Igor Rossi coming on as substitutes.

Nigeria full-back Juwon Oshaniwa is poised to complete his move following a wait for paperwork.

Neilson thought the additions were necessary to cope with the demands of the Scottish top flight.

"We had a good season last season, but you are coming up against better teams, more organised, faster, stronger, fitter," he said.

"We want to carry the momentum from last season. The jump is the consistency you need to have.

Interview - Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson

"Last season, we had a strong squad, we carried a lot of momentum, a good home crowd, so we could go through games at 60-70% and still get a result.

"This season, we are going to need to be at 90-95% minimum to get a result out of games."

Neilson was looking forward to celebrating last year's title win, but stressed that getting off to a good start against St Johnstone was more important.

"We want to enjoy the day but approach it properly and work hard," added the head coach, who is expecting a full house at Tynecastle with 14,000 season tickets having been sold.

"But it will only be a great day if we can get three points."

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