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Robbie Neilson will “reflect, recharge and prepare for the next opportunity” following his sacking as Hearts boss.

The 42-year-old’s tenure in the Tynecastle hot seat ended after the 2-0 home defeat to St Mirren on Saturday – a fifth-successive loss – that saw them slip below Aberdeen into fourth place in the cinch Premiership.

The former Hearts full-back took charge of the Gorgie outfit for the second time in the summer of 2020 after leading Dundee United to the Championship title.

Neilson repeated the feat with Hearts and their third-placed finish last season, coupled with a Scottish Cup final defeat to Rangers, saw the Edinburgh club secure an extended run in Europe in the Conference League group stage.

In a statement published on the Leaguemanagers.com website, Neilson said: “I would like to thank Ann Budge (chair) and all of the board for giving me the opportunity to manage Heart of Midlothian over the past three seasons.

“We built a fantastic relationship and I will always have the utmost respect for them.

“My thanks also to the players and staff for their hard work and dedication. I have enjoyed working with you all and seeing you develop as both a team and as individuals.

“To my assistants, Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest, thank you for your unwavering support and dedication.

“Everything we achieved together, winning the Championship, two Scottish Cup finals, a third-placed finish and securing European group-stage football was with the superb support of the Hearts fans and the Foundation of Hearts.

“I thank you all for that. I am immensely proud of what we were able to achieve together. It has been an honour to be your manager.

“I would like to wish everybody at the club the very best of luck as they seek to finish the season strongly and build on the strong foundations already in place.

“I’m now looking forward to having a chance to reflect, recharge and prepare for the next opportunity.”

Steven Naismith – the Gorgie B team boss – has been appointed interim manager for the final seven fixtures of the season and his first game is away to Edinburgh rivals Hibernian on Saturday.