JACK HAMILTON will return in goal for Hearts against Raith Rovers tomorrow as head coach Robbie Neilson prepares to change almost an entire team for the second time in a week.
Neilson confirmed today that 20-year-old Hamilton will play at Stark’s Park because neither first-choice Neil Alexander nor his deputy Scott Gallacher are fit yet. Lee Hollis, the goalkeeper who joined Hearts last Friday and played in Wednesday’s 4-1 Petrofac Training Cup defeat at Livingston, is expected to return to the substitutes’ bench.
Experienced players such as captain Danny Wilson, Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben, Alim Ozturk and Kevin McHattie will also be reinstated against Raith. Neilson made ten changes to his starting line-up for the Livingston match in an attempt to give young players first-team experience. Given his priority is the league, established names will now be recalled. Hamilton was cup-tied for Wednesday’s match because he played on loan for Stenhousemuir earlier in the tournament. Hollis took over having only joined Hearts last Friday, but he looked short of match sharpness during the 4-1 defeat.
Alexander is expected back next month after fracturing his cheekbone against Rangers at Ibrox. Gallacher twisted an ankle in a minor training incident last week but he is not yet ready to return.
“I don’t think Scott has a chance of making it at the moment so Jack will be back in,” Neilson told the Evening News. “There were 11 changes on Wednesday, if you include moving Jordan McGhee out of position, from the team that beat Hibs. It won’t be far off that again for Saturday.
“After the Hibs game, the main focus was on Raith Rovers. We split the squad so that we kept the team for Raith Rovers together and there was a separate squad working together for the Livingston game.”
Neilson stressed he did not blame Hollis for the loss in West Lothian. “I don’t think he had any chance with any of the goals,” continued the head coach. “I thought Livingston were very clinical in everything they did.”