Hearts sign veteran Peter Enckelman to help solve goalkeeping crisis

Peter Enckelman in action for St Johnstone last year. Picture: SNS

Peter Enckelman in action for St Johnstone last year. Picture: SNS

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HEARTS last night signed 35-year-old Peter Enckelman as goalkeeping cover for Jamie MacDonald.

The former Finland internationalist should be registered in time to feature amongst the substitutes against Inverness today and will also be available for the forthcoming Europa League play-off tie with Liverpool, should MacDonald be precluded by the imminent birth of his first child.

“I’m really excited to be back involved and coming to a club like Hearts is great,” said Enckelman, who has signed a short-term contract until January after Mark Ridgers’ knee injury left Hearts short on goalkeepers. MacDonald’s partner is due to give birth and Tynecastle officials opted not to risk being caught out ahead of such an important European tie.

Although Hearts submitted their squad list for the Liverpool matches before the August 8 deadline, UEFA rules allow one additional player to be registered up until 11pm on the day before the first leg of qualifying and play-off rounds. Therefore, provided Hearts lodge Enckelman’s registration with UEFA before 11pm on Wednesday, he will be part of their squad when Liverpool visit Tynecastle the following night for a mammoth Battle of Britain encounter.

Enckelman left St Johnstone as a free agent at the end of last season and harbours considerable experience of England’s Premier League having played with Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers. He also has 12 caps for Finland and provides reliable back-up to MacDonald until after Christmas with Ridgers out for a minimum of three months.

Meanwhile, Hearts are assessing former Manchester United youth goalkeeper Joseph Coll as a potential new recruit for their under-20 squad. The 18-year-old Irishman trained at Riccarton this week and played in a bounce game against Cowdenbeath on Wednesday evening.

The Edinburgh club are keen to have more competition for their current under-20 goalkeeper, Jack Hamilton, and Coll is likely to remain on trial for at least another few days as coaches assess his qualities. Coll, from Donegal, left United just last month in the hope of developing his career elsewhere and is looking to impress Hearts enough to earn a contract.

Tynecastle officials have stressed that Coll is not being considered as a first-team trialist despite the recent injury to second-choice goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. Hamilton is

expected to take Ridgers’ place as

back-up to Jamie MacDonald for this afternoon’s SPL match with Inverness. Speaking

recently after severing ties at Old Trafford, Coll explained his reasons for trying to further his career away from one of the world’s biggest clubs.

“I asked to be released because I simply did not feel I was getting enough football. Manchester United are a big club and they have a lot of goalkeepers fighting for places,” he said.

“I asked if I was going to get more football and they said they couldn’t guarantee me anything. I just decided there and then that I needed to move on if I am to develop my career.

“I have learned so much in the past two years and I couldn’t say a bad word about the

people at the club. I just thought I owed it to myself to try and

fulfil the potential I think I have.”