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Hearts boss Robbie Neilson upbeat over Liam Boyce’s Scottish Cup final hopes

Hearts’ Liam Boyce went off injured against Rangers (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Hearts’ Liam Boyce went off injured against Rangers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Robbie Neilson is hopeful a groin problem will not keep Hearts top-scorer Liam Boyce out of next weekend’s Scottish Cup final.

The Northern Irish striker was forced off just 12 minutes into Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Rangers in their final cinch Premiership match of the season.

The two teams meet again next weekend at Hampden and Neilson is optimistic the issue will not rule Boyce out.

“It was just a tight groin,” said the Hearts manager. “He thinks it’s just a tightness. That’s all it is.

“As soon as there was any issue we just got him off. There’s no point in taking any risks. It will just be dependent on the next day or two if it is just a tightness.”

Neilson was disappointed to see his team finish off a positive league campaign with a defeat.

“I thought it was one of those games with an end-of-season feel about it,” he said. “Rangers made loads of changes, we made a lot of changes as well. There was no real intensity to the game to be honest with you. That was the disappointment for us.

“Yes, we’re trying to get guys as fit as we can get them for next week, but there are two sides of it. There’s disappointment about the performance, but also we kind of expected it a little bit with the rustiness of some of them coming back into the game.

“When you play for Hearts and you’re playing one of the Old Firm at Tynecastle you need to be up for it. There were periods of the game when we weren’t aggressive enough.

“We didn’t get the press on and allowed them to play through. Because we made a number of changes, putting guys in who hadn’t played together, you get that sometimes.”

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst was delighted with the way his side performed, despite making 10 changes and leaving out all his main men ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.

“It was very pleasing,” he told Rangers TV. “It was the last game before two finals, so I decided to change the team and give players some rest.

“I was really impressed by the win and the way we played. You couldn’t see the changes we had made, especially with so many youngsters on the pitch. I think they performed really well. We dominated against a very good side with a very young team. I’m very proud.”

Teenager Cole McKinnon came off the bench to seal the win with a goal on his debut.

“It was great to see Cole in the first team,” said Van Bronckhorst. “I’m really pleased for him with this special moment.”

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Europa League final, Van Bronckhorst added: “It’s going to be amazing, a fantastic occasion. We will bring as many supporters as we can. We have to enjoy the occasion but make it a memorable night in Seville.”

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