Neilson stays tight-lipped on future

Robbie Neilson was remaining coy about his future ahead of what looks certain to be his last game in charge of Hearts.

Neilson is expected to be confirmed as MK Dons manager this week after holding talks with the Sky Bet League One club on Tuesday. The 36-year-old is believed to have agreed personal terms while compensation is not expected to be a barrier.

Both clubs released coordinated statements on Monday stating there would be no further comment until after Hearts’ Ladbrokes Premiership game with Rangers at Tynecastle and Neilson gave nothing away minutes before kick-off.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme, he said: “Tonight’s not about me at all. It shouldn’t be about an influence, the situation with me at the moment.

“It’s about these 11 guys who are going out to play in front of a full house. It’s been a good preparation, as it always is, and the players are ready to go.

“I don’t want it to be about me. It’s about the fans coming to watch the players play, they have not come here to discuss the situation with me. I am here 100 per cent for the team.”

Ian Cathro has emerged as Hearts’ number one choice to succeed Neilson, who led the Jambos to the Championship title and third place in the Premiership during his first two seasons in charge.

The Newcastle assistant coach has previously worked with Hearts director of football Craig Levein, who has described him as a “genius” for his methods in coaching young players.

Levein handed Cathro a senior role in Dundee United’s youth academy at the age of 22 when he was manager at Tannadice.

Cathro went on to run a regional Scottish Football Association performance school before moving to Portuguese top-flight side Rio Ave as assistant to Nuno Espirito Santo after the pair met on a coaching course.

They then worked together at Valencia before Cathro left for Newcastle to work under Steve McClaren in the summer of 2015.

The former Forfar and Brechin youth player, whose former students include Hearts centre-back John Souttar, remained at St James’ Park after Rafael Benitez took charge.

Hearts use the Box Soccer coaching firm which Cathro developed to help their young players and Levein previously failed to persuade Cathro to join him in a different capacity at Tynecastle in 2014.

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