JOHN McGLYNN today implored Hearts’ young players to seize the opportunity of a lifetime in the coming weeks by showcasing their talents against Hibs and in two monumental European ties with Liverpool.
The Edinburgh club were paired with English opposition for the second successive year in yesterday’s Europa League play-off draw. After last season’s ties with Tottenham, McGlynn is relishing the prospect of facing Liverpool in his first European match as Hearts manager.
First, he has tomorrow’s Edinburgh derby to contend with. He explained why games of such magnitude should be met head on by all Hearts players, particularly the teenagers who are looking to make a lasting impression.
“It’s a great time to be at Hearts and it’s a great place to be if you’re a young player because you can’t put a price on the experience they’re getting,” said McGlynn.
“I can see the buzz about the players every day in training and I’m sure the Liverpool draw will just add more to that. If you’ve got any fire in your belly at all then it’s probably just been ignited even more because of what’s coming up. If I was a Hearts player right now I’d be trying to impress the manager because there’s a mouthwatering tie coming up and I’d be doing my utmost to get in that team.
“And, hopefully, we can benefit from that in the league games prior to the Liverpool match because people will be trying to impress me that much that they won’t be leaving anything spare. If you’ve got a winning team there’s a fair chance you’ll stick by it.”
Liverpool will have scouts in the Easter Road stand to watch Hearts and report back to manager Brendan Rodgers before the teams meet at Tynecastle for the play-off first leg on August 23. The return leg at Anfield is seven days later.
“The English season hasn’t quite started up yet so everyone’s eyes will be on the derby at Easter Road which is a good profile, and a couple of guys from Liverpool might watch it,” said McGlynn.
“It’s a chance for us to show the world there is good football in Edinburgh derbies. Hibs aren’t my concern but, at the same time, it’s hard to avoid the fact they will want to put things right after the Scottish Cup final and last weekend, when they lost 3-0.
“We have to guard against that and make sure we don’t lose the focus and look too far ahead to the Liverpool game. I’ve got enough on my plate with the Hearts team to worry about Hibs and we have to be really positive.
“The fact we beat St Johnstone 2-0 and did well in pre-season games, we have to stick to being positive. We have to be blinkered and try and do what we know we can and things will hopefully take care of themselves.”