SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Jordan McGhee is poised to start his first senior match for Hearts against Inverness Caledonian Thistle this afternoon. Manager Gary Locke has lost both Kevin McHattie and Danny Wilson through suspension and McGhee is in prime position to earn a place in his starting line-up.
The young defender headed the winning goal as a substitute against Aberdeen at Tynecastle last weekend in what was only his second appearance at first-team level. He was then promoted from the Scotland Under-19s to the Under-21s in midweek. Now he is in contention for a starting place in the Highlands as Locke attempts to juggle his inexperienced and threadbare squad to cope without captain Wilson and left-back McHattie.
“It’s a big problem for us because we’re not blessed with lots of bodies. It’s an opportunity for other players,” said the manager. “I’ll sit down with Billy and the rest of the backroom team and see what we do with the team. We’ve got Jordan McGhee and Jamie Hamill who can fill in at full-back but there’s no doubt it’s going to be a problem for us. I’ll discuss it with the rest of the backroom team and then make a decision.”
Locke’s most obvious solution would appear to be a back four of McGhee, Dylan McGowan, Brad McKay and Jamie Hamill, with Callum Tapping slotting into Hamill’s central midfield vacancy.
Wilson was issued a one-game ban by the Scottish Football Association following comments in the tunnel at the end of the 2-1 win over Aberdeen. McHattie had been ordered off in the same game and, despite Hearts lodging an appeal, the SFA upheld his automatic one-match league suspension.