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John Robertson <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Kristinn Jakobsson
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Jambos eye Euro bonus


HEARTS players will net a bonus of at least £7000 per man if they qualify for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup, the Evening News can reveal.

Following discussions between senior players and chief executive Chris Robinson - which it is understood were finally concluded after the opening Group A defeat from Feyenoord in Rotterdam last month - an agreement was thrashed out which will see the squad strike gold should progression to the next phase of the competition be achieved.

The Evening News understands that the financial incentive on offer is based on a ‘tiered’ system, with £9000 available for topping the five-team group and £7000 the reward for a third-place finish.

The Jambos have already hit the jackpot through qualifying for the inaugural lucrative group stages, each member of the first team pocketing £2500 for defeating Portuguese outfit Braga.

With the first three sides all qualifying for the knock-out stages in the New Year, the Gorgie outfit had kicked off its campaign in Holland in the De Kuip Stadium with hopes high of claiming one of the available spots.

However, with Hearts rooted to the foot of Group A following that loss and a defeat at Murrayfield against Schalke, the odds now appear stacked against the Tynecastle outfit achieving that goal.

Having adopted a watching brief from the dug out against the Germans following his appointment as Craig Levein’s successor just 24 hours earlier, John Robertson takes charge of his first European match in Switzerland in the knowledge that nothing less than victory will keep their hopes alive.

The Jambos are desperate for the three points to give them a chance of progress with Ferencvaros still to visit the Capital next month.

While a draw would not rule them out of the Group A equation completely, realistically they know a victory is essential. They will have to do so without the services of the suspended Paul Hartley and Patrick Kisnorbo, although Robertson has been boosted by the return to fitness of midfielder Phil Stamp, who missed the weekend loss to Motherwell with a calf strain.

The Englishman returned to training this week and could be involved at some stage.

Jamie McAllister looks set to be available after shrugging off the effects of a heavy cold and a knee knock suffered against the Steelmen.

Kevin McKenna also injured a knee moments after coming off the bench in the second half on Saturday and there will be a late decision on his fitness.

Robertson will also hand a late fitness test to skipper Steven Pressley, who has been toiling with a stomach bug.

The captain missed training on Tuesday before jetting out with the rest of the squad yesterday.

"Hopefully Elvis will be available as he is a great influence on and off the park," said Robertson.

"We will take advice before making a decision. It is a big game and he wants to play but he is professional enough not to go into the match unless he feels he can do a job."

Taken from the Scotsman

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