Hearts winger Jamie Walker faces a fight to reclaim his first-team place after returning from injury yesterday.
He played 80 minutes for the club’s Under-20s in a 2-0 defeat by Inverness and today manager Gary Locke explained that the player now has stiff competition for his position at senior level.
Walker was sidelined in January after breaking a metatarsal bone in his foot. The intervening three months have seen his fellow wingers Sam Nicholson, David Smith and Billy King rise to the fore for Hearts. Whilst delighted at Walker’s recovery from injury, Locke stressed that he may take time to force his way back into the starting line-up.
“It’s all very well training but you need to play games, so the plan was always for Jamie to play for the Under-20s first,” Locke told the Evening News. “He will be ready for the first team after the split but he’s going to have to work hard to get back into the side. The boys who have the jerseys at the minute have been fantastic. I’ve said all along that, if you’re in the team and playing well, then you’ll keep your place.
“It’s great to have options now in the wider areas. Sam Nicholson has come in and done well, Billy King and David Smith are on form and now Jamie is back.
“One of the reasons these boys are doing well is because there is competition there. They know that, if they aren’t playing, there’s somebody who will come in and take their place. That’s maybe not the case in other positions through the team.”
Meanwhile, Hearts’ administrators BDO are considering whether to ask the Scottish Professional Football League for an advance on prize money due at the end of the season.
As of this morning, the SPFL had not received any request from BDO but money to keep Hearts running is due to run out at the end of the month.
Premiership clubs have already had the majority of their prize money paid out in staggered payments throughout the season. Hearts have received £690,000 of the £790,000 they are due.
The remaining £100,000 could be paid early, but league officials would have to assess any request from BDO first before reaching a decision.
The administrator in charge of Hearts, Bryan Jackson, remains in Lithuania hoping for further talks with Ukio Bankas officials. He needs them to agree to a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to take the club out of administration before funds run out.
The CVA deal is worth £2.5million.