Loss of Danny Wilson could hang over Hearts’ Premiership return
Hearts enjoyed an excellent season as they bounced straight back from a year in the Ladbrokes Championship in style, romping to the title by 21 points and scoring 96 goals in the process. However, the Edinburgh club have suffered a major blow in losing their skipper and talisman Danny Wilson to Rangers.
The 23-year-old could not turn down the opportunity to join the club where he started his career, with the call of Ibrox and the chance to potentially lead out his boyhood club too much to resist.
The decision to remain in the Championship and how the ex-Liverpool man exited Tynecastle has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Jambos fans, but now the question must be can they cope without the Scotland international?
The Premiership new boys lost just three times with Wilson at the heart of their defence last term, conceding just 21 goals in the 31 games in which their captain appeared. Filling that gap in the centre of defence is going to be crucial if Hearts are to push Celtic and Aberdeen at the top of the table.
In order to mount a serious challenge for the top three (Hearts are 11/2 in the Betting without Celtic market), the Jam Tarts have added both Blazej Augustyn and Igor Branco.
The latter was a Copa Libetadores winner with Internacional in his native Brazil in 2010 but a move to Maritimo did not work out and he ended up spending the majority of his time in the B team in Portugal.
The 26-year-old branded himself a ‘leader’ on signing for Robbie Neilson’s men and his Europa League experience will come in handy but he represents a huge risk and he is likely to find himself sat on the bench.
Augustyn is the man charged with replacing Wilson alongside new skipper Alim Ozturk. The Polish stopper arrives from his homeland with a point to prove in British football after not quite making the grade at Bolton eight years ago.
Again, the 27-year-old is unproven at this level, which must be a worry for supporters and coaching staff alike. He will have no time to settle and will find himself slot in next to a 22-year-old captain with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.
Hearts open with two matches against a pair of last season’s top six sides in the shape of St Johnstone and Dundee and if that defence begins to look creaky then questions are sure to be asked.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.