ROBBIE NEILSON has advised Hearts fans to enjoy Callum Paterson while they can and to expect more unstoppable goals.
The full-back is out of contract at the end of the season and is likely to leave Tynecastle, but will remain a key player in the meantime.
Supporters marvelled at Paterson’s powerful left-footed strike against Motherwell on Friday as Hearts won 3-1. The 21-year-old then headed off on international duty with Scotland, who face Lithuania on Saturday at Hampden and Slovakia next Tuesday in Trnava.
Neilson, the Hearts head coach, praised Paterson’s finishing prowess and admitted fans should always expect the unexpected when he ventures forward from defence. He also urged the public to enjoy the goals while Paterson is here.
“They do need to enjoy him, 100 per cent,” Neilson said. “We had asked Callum to be a wee bit more defensive on Friday night and he showed great maturity.
“I thought that was one of his best performances for a long time because he wasn’t asked to be up and down for the whole game.
“He was asked to play a more disciplined game but he also chipped in with a great finish. With Callum, right foot, left foot, head, backheel, anything can happen. He’s a phenomenal finisher for a full-back.
“He played as a striker as a kid and played for Hearts as a striker, so you always know there’s a chance he’s going to score. It’s just getting him into positions where he can do that for us.”
Arnaud Djoum’s finish also drew praise from Neilson after watching Hearts fail to score in their previous two matches. “We know that quality is in the squad. Sometimes there are little sticky patches when you aren’t getting goals,” he continued.
“In the two games before we played Motherwell, the opposition goalkeeper has had man of the match. We’ve dominated and created chances but just haven’t put the ball away.
“Friday night was great and now we need to carry that through for a fortnight until the next game. Out of the last three games we’ve played, Motherwell was probably the least dominant we’ve been. Yet we’ve come away with three goals and three points.
“We dominated at St Johnstone and couldn’t score, then against Ross County we had something like 18 shots and didn’t score. There’s a belief in the team that we will create chances, we just need to believe that we’ll put them away. The win at Motherwell should help us.”