HEARTS teenager Callum Paterson has returned to Riccarton high on adrenalin after Scotland Under-21 duty, with manager Gary Locke eager to harness the player’s confidence and help him continue his goalscoring form.
Paterson has two goals from his last two matches after scoring in Hearts’ 3-1 win at Pittodrie before a spectacular overhead kick in Scotland Under-21s’ 1-1 draw with Georgia last Thursday.
Locke attended the Under-21 game in person but missed his player’s acrobatic strike in the dying seconds having left a few moments earlier. Along with the rest of his Hearts team-mates, Paterson reported to Riccarton for training yesterday after a weekend break and carried a notable spring in his step according to his manager.
“He did come back buzzing and I was pleased for him getting his goal for Scotland,” explained Locke. “I was at the game but I left with five minutes to go and missed the goal. I managed to see it on TV later and what a fantastic finish it was.
“I thought Callum did well when he went on and helped turn the game in Scotland’s favour. Until then it was 1-0 to Georgia and you couldn’t really see them scoring. He’s now scored two goals in his last two games and he’s come back full of confidence. Hopefully he can carry that on to Saturday and the other games coming up.”
Locke will continue to deploy Paterson either as a forward or a right-sided midfielder despite his versatility allowing him to operate as a defender as well. “With the situation we’re in at the moment, I see him more as a striker or a right midfielder,” continued Locke. “He’s one of those boys who was late coming in to our academy. He didn’t join us until he was around 15 or 16 and I’ve seen him play everywhere. He’s played centre-half, midfield, right-back, up front and wide right. He’s been very versatile which maybe hasn’t helped him get a settled position.
“Long-term, I think his best position is wide right. That’s either in a front three or in a midfield four. Billy Stark, the Scotland Under-21 coach, has said the same. He said he’s seen him play everywhere and he thinks his best position is wide right as well. The good thing is he’s adaptable and he’s done a great job for the team this season in a few positions.”