HEARTS will promote another youth academy pupil to their first-team squad this week as 18-year-old goalkeeper Jack Hamilton becomes Jamie MacDonald’s new deputy.
The move follows news of Mark Ridgers’ knee injury, which will sideline him for the next three months.
Scans have revealed that Ridgers tore his posterior cruciate ligament and suffered additional ligament damage on Scotland Under-21 duty on Tuesday night. He collided with Belgium’s Thomas Meunier and now faces a minimum of 12 weeks on the sidelines, which may also include surgery.
Hamilton, a Scotland Under-19 internationalist, will now step into Ridgers’ role as back-up to MacDonald at senior level.
Hearts manager John McGlynn pledged that the club would offer Ridgers all the support necessary during his rehabilitation.
“I am gutted for the boy. It’s the start of the season, he has been doing well and now he’s looking at a minimum of 12 weeks out,” McGlynn said.
“It is a blow for him and the club and we all wish him a speedy recovery. Hearts will give him all the help and support we can to get him back fit as quickly as possible.”
McGlynn has also hinted that he will keep faith with another Riccarton graduate, Kevin McHattie, at left-back for this weekend’s SPL meeting with Inverness. Danny Grainger is available again after recovering from groin surgery but McGlynn said he sees no reason to drop 19-year-old McHattie.
“Until he gives the shirt up or Danny does exceptionally well in one of the bounce games we are having, Kevin will continue in that role,” said the
manager. “Players have to be picked on form,
that is the way I have always worked. People always ask about experience but how do you get experience without playing in big games?
“It is up to the guys in the team to convince me they should be playing. It doesn’t matter whether it is Kevin McHattie, Danny Grainger or anyone else. The team is picked on merit.”
McGlynn stressed he is seeking improvement from Hearts following last week’s 1-1 draw with Hibs at Easter Road.
He told the Hearts website: “We can give a much better account of ourselves than we did at the weekend. We can play far better than that. We will look for a big improvement against Inverness and hopefully get all three points.”
Meanwhile, Hearts winger Arvydas Novikovas scored in a dramatic 4-3 away win for Lithuania Under-21s against Finland Under-21s last night.