Hearts manager Robbie Neilson expects plenty of fresh faces on both sides during Saturday’s friendly with Sunderland.

The Tynecastle club host former player Lee Johnson’s Sunderland in a break from their Premier Sports Cup campaign. Hearts defeated Peterhead and Cove Rangers in their opening matches, Neilson now anticipating a ‘step up’ against English League One opposition ahead of the cinch Premiership campaign.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg

Johnson’s Sunderland come to Tynecasle. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Neilson has also spoken with Sunderland boss Johnson, and while pleased with the 3-0 victory against Cove on Tuesday, anticipates friendly changes: “I was pleased and overall the Cove game was good. In the first 15 minutes we were a bit slack but we settled down and we were comfortable.

“Cove played well and caused us a few problems but I’m delighted. Sunderland will be a step up. We’ll make some changes, there’s some guys who have played 90 minutes in these two games, there’s some guys who need game time.

“We will rotate, I will put some young boys in. I spoke to Lee Johnson and he is similar, Sunderland are early in their pre-season. But I am looking forward to what should be a good game. It’ll be a chance for guys to show what they can do.”

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