Ian Cathro is eagerly anticipating his Tynecastle debut this Saturday, with Jamie Walker likely to be fit as Hearts host Partick Thistle.
The winger has overcome a thigh muscle knock ahead of Cathro’s first home game as head coach of the Edinburgh club. Walker limped off in last week’s 2-0 loss at Ibrox but has trained at Riccarton this week. Hearts fans will welcome Cathro at home for the first time against Thistle and the new coach is keen to see, and hear, Tynecastle at full volume.
“I’m looking forward to getting a feel for the stadium and seeing the team play there. I’m looking forward to a powerful atmosphere to really push everyone to their peak. That atmosphere has got to be an advantage,” he said in an exclusive Evening News interview. “Everyone on our side has to push to encourage the fans to give the same. We’re working towards a really strong connection so that the fans are helping us throughout the games. If there are a couple of minutes where the players need a jolt of energy, that’s when the fans can help.
“This is one of the clubs that is important in people’s lives. People care about it and they live their lives through the club. Not every football club is necessarily like that. It does separate this club from others. There’s a strong feeling there, it’s real, and there’s something special about it.”
Asked about Walker’s injury, Cathro replied: “He’ll will be fine. Everybody has trained as normal so there are no ongoing concerns. Everybody has accepted the disappointment from last week but we are also aware and realistic. We’ve already moved on and we’re focusing on the Partick game.”
He also moved to praise striker Bjorn Johnsen for winning the SPFL Player of the Month award for November. “Congratulations to him for the work he did to get that award. He’s just got to keep pushing every day, push that little bit further. Like everybody, he’s got to improve and work even more,” said Cathro.
“He’s got competition up front and that is always one of the most important things at a football club. You need everybody to be lit up and alive to push themselves. Some people do that naturally, others need competition to do it. It’s essential to have it.”
Others who fell out of favour under Cathro’s predecessor, Robbie Neilson, could get another opportunity to impress over the coming weeks. “Everybody has an opportunity,” said Cathro. “We’re still only a few days into things and everybody has the same opportunity. All the players are working well so there are no issues there. We’ll make decisions when the time comes to make decisions.”
• Hearts Under-20s lost 2-0 to Aberdeen in a Development League match at Riccarton yesterday, the Dons’ goals coming from Connor McLennan and Scott Anderson.