Hearts’ predicted starting XI for opening day clash with Ross County – with new signings set to feature


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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson will select his first team of the league season when Ross County visit Tynecastle Park on Saturday. Picture: SNS

It’s going to be a tough task to improve upon last season for Robbie Neilson’s side. Third place at a canter, a cup final appearance and qualifying for European football where they’re guaranteed a minimum of eight games.

However, the Jambos management have been in the summer trying to do exactly that with five new faces arriving and Alex Cochrane signing on a permanent deal. Further additions are also expected later in the window.

It’s difficult to predict just how many of these new faces will be in action against Malky Mackay’s visitors to Tynecastle. There’s still a strong core of players from the 2021/22 unit who will stake a strong claim for a place in the line-up, but things always need freshened up every new campaign.

Supporters will be hoping for similar levels of performance from the reigning SFWA Player of the Year award winner.

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This is what we believe the Hearts boss will go with…

With another centre-back still on the wishlist, this spot will either go to the Northern Irishman or Toby Sibbick. The latter has yet to look comfortable on the right of a back three, so expect Neilson to go with the safer option.
Has played enough in pre-season to suggest he’s fit enough after ankle surgery to start.
New signing Kye Rowles is an option, but why mess with what worked so well last season when everyone is available? Already showed in pre-season he remains a threat from centre-back.
Played pretty much every game after joining in January, improving as the season progressed. Seems the right wing-back job is now his to lose.
Feels like there could be a lack of dynamism in the engine room without the Australian buzzbomb.
The new signing’s set piece and attacking abilities should see him get the nod in a game Hearts are expected to win.
Joined permanently in the summer and the use of him in pre-season indicates he’ll get the nod on the left.
Robbie Neilson says he’s comfortable with Boyce and Lawrence Shankland playing in the same team and expect to see it out of the gate on Saturday.
Last season’s Tynecastle assist-king will be expected to bring his usual creativity this coming campaign.
Showed against Stoke City last week that he’s ready and raring to make his full competitive debut right now.


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