MISSING three crucial matches as the season approaches its climax is sufficient motivation for David Templeton to fight back from injury quickly.
The winger today explained his eagerness to return to action after rupturing a groin muscle last month, precluding him from league matches against Rangers and Hibs plus the upcoming Scottish Cup quarter-final with St Mirren.
Templeton joined Hearts fans in the stand for Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Ibrox and the experience reinforced to him the support’s craving for success. Once he is recovered and fit again, he fully intends to help deliver it. Beating Rangers restored belief at Riccarton and helped recreate a feelgood factor which had been absent from the Hearts training ground for several weeks. Now, the 23-year-old wants to piggy-back on the euphoria and hopes to be back playing by the start of next month. The groin problem is healing quickly and ensuring he is involved in crucial matches during April and May is Templeton’s priority.
“When you’re sitting out watching games, you’re just dying to be playing,” he said. “Especially after Saturday. I’m missing three of the biggest games of the season – Ibrox, then the quarter-final, then Hibs. Missing those three is really disappointing, there’s nothing worse. It just makes me want to get back even quicker.
“I’ve not really had many injuries in my career. I fractured my foot a couple of years ago and I was out for a while with that. I broke down a couple of times coming back from that so it kept me out longer.
“This time I’ve healed quite quick and I’m two weeks ahead of schedule. I was told mid-April I’d be back but I should be back by the start of April. I spoke to the physio yesterday and he said everything is going well. The injury is healing well and I’m not getting any pain now, so it’s just a matter of strengthening the tendon. Once that happens, I’ll be okay and ready to go.”
Templeton explained how Hearts’ victory in Glasgow – their first at Ibrox since May 2004 – had helped players overcome the dejection of five league games without a win, and just one goal scored during that period. “Our results weren’t good and everybody was thinking we were going down the way. But Saturday showed the boys still have that fighting spirit,” he said.
“Since I’ve been at Hearts, we hadn’t beaten Rangers at Ibrox. I know they’re going through a lot right now but it’s still great spirit shown by our boys to come back from 1-0 down away to Rangers and get a victory. People always expect us to lose when we go to Ibrox. It’s been difficult there and we’ve been unlucky a few times. Calum Elliot nearly scored a last minute winner once, and on other occasions we’ve deserved more than we got. On Saturday, we got what we deserved from our second-half performance.
“I was in with the Hearts crowd. I thought it would be better there. Before I broke into the first team, I used to go in with the fans all the time at Easter Road and places like that. It’s always a great atmosphere. I thought I’d take the chance to do it again while I’m injured and it was great seeing us get the win. You see how much it means to the fans and you see them celebrating close-up. When you’re playing, you don’t see that as much. Being in with them helped me realise how much it means to them and it was good to see.”
The opportunity to reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals and climb back up the Scottish Premier League means those Hearts fans could witness an exciting end to the season. Both competitions offer avenues to the Europa League qualifying rounds, something Templeton is eager to experience again.
“We want to get back up the table now because the chance for Europe is definitely still there. We’ve got to think positively all the time and look above rather than below. That’s what we’re doing, aiming for three points every week. And the chance to get to the cup semi-finals is massive.”