Hearts manager Robbie Neilson says the Tynecastle club’s friendly with English League One side Sunderland will give players the chance to ‘familairise themselves’ with fans.

The newly-promoted cinch Premiership outfit will host Sunderland on their free weekend in the Premier Sports Cup group stages. Hearts opened the tournament with a win against Peterhead and face Cove Rangers at Tynecastle tonight.

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

Lee Johnson’s Sunderland are heading north. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

2,000 home fans are set to attend both the Cove clash and Sunderland friendly, Neilson saying it’s an opportunity for players to remember what crowds feel like, with numbers having been restricted in Scotland since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic: “This will be another good test for us ahead of our league opener against Celtic.

“Sunderland are big club down in England with some talented players so it’ll be a great run out for our squad. It’s also another chance for our players to familairise themselves with the Tynecastle crowd as some of them have yet to experience it. I hope we can get as many Hearts fans through the turnstiles as possible.”

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