Gary Locke could give teenager Jordan McGhee debut

Hearts manager Gary Locke. Picture: SNS

Hearts manager Gary Locke. Picture: SNS

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HEARTS are ready to promote another prodigious teenager from their youth academy as 16-year-old Jordan McGhee prepares to join the senior squad for tomorrow’s trip to Dundee.

The defender has impressed manager Gary Locke with consistent displays at under-20 level this season and could make a first-team debut before the campaign ends.

McGhee scored for Scotland Under-18s against Israel in midweek and is comfortable at left-back or centre-back. He has grown in stature this season and Locke is eager to reward younger players for progress with promotion to the first team. Since last summer, teenagers like Jamie Walker, Fraser Mullen, Dale Carrick, Jason Holt, Kevin McHattie and Callum Tapping have all emerged from the Riccarton youth academy, and McGhee is set to become the latest protégé to make the step up. “He’s only 16 years of age but he’s done very well for the under-20s this season,” explained Locke. “We see him having a bright future.

“He might not start the game, he might not even be on the bench, but I’m certainly thinking about involving him in the squad tomorrow. I go to watch all the under-20 games, as do most of the staff here, and I’ve told all the lads that they will be promoted to the first-team squad no matter what age they are. Jordan is a big lad and he’s come up against some experienced strikers playing as overage players in the under-20s and done very well. He’s certainly one we rate highly. The fans might see him on the pitch before the end of the season.”

Hearts have injury concerns over Danny Wilson and Michael Ngoo for tomorrow’s match, which will see Dundee relegated from the SPL if the Edinburgh club win. Wilson has a thigh knock and Ngoo is still suffering from the shoulder injury which forced him off against Kilmarnock last week.

“Michael didn’t train Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. If he’s struggling then he won’t be risked but I’m hopeful he’ll be okay,” said Locke. “I think it’s 50-50 but the signs from the physio are that he feels okay within himself. If he thinks he’s okay to play, then he’ll be involved. If I see things I’m not happy with then it will be a chance for somebody else.

“Danny has a thigh problem. If he doesn’t make it there’s Brad McKay, there’s Dylan McGowan or there’s young Jordan. We’ll give Danny another 24 hours and assess him from there.”