JAMIE HAMILL is poised to start Hearts’ SPL match against Ross County tomorrow, almost a year to the day since he last began a game for the club. The defender has been sidelined for 12 months with a ruptured cruciate ligament, meaning his previous appearance in the starting line-up was on April 7 last year in a 2-1 win over Dunfermline at East End Park.
Having come through three under-20 matches without any reaction in recent weeks, and having returned to first-team action at Pittodrie last weekend as a substitute, Hamill is preparing to complete his comeback at Tynecastle tomorrow afternoon. Gary Locke, the Hearts manager, is eager to have the 26-year-old back in the team.
“Yes, I’m tempted to start him,” he told the Evening News. “He’s played a number of games, including during the week for the under-20 team against Hibs. He’s certainly a player who is heavily in my thoughts.” Locke pledged to give other players game time between now and the season’s end, with Hearts facing five bottom-six fixtures. However, he intends to select the strongest available team at all times.
“It’s not a case of giving someone else a chance because I think all the boys in the squad have had an opportunity at some time in the season,” he continued. “We’ve got a young squad so it’s now up to me. I go and watch all the under-20 games so the boys who are doing well there will certainly get an opportunity between now and the end of the season.
“I’ll be picking the strongest team possible because we want to try and win as many games as we can.”