PAUL McCALLUM intends to atone for his penalty shoot-out miss on his Hearts debut by scoring the goals to justify the club’s faith in him.
The on-loan West Ham striker admitted being devastated when Dean Brill saved his penalty in the League Cup semi-final against Inverness at Easter Road. He has taken two weeks to digest the disappointment after a subsequent miss by Jamie Hamill saw Hearts lose the shoot-out 4-2 and miss out on a place in the final.
McCallum explained that the magnitude of that occasion helped him fully appreciate the size of the Edinburgh club and stressed he is now eager to make amends.
Hearts manager Gary Locke is likely to name McCallum in his starting line-up this afternoon, when Hearts face Inverness in the league at the Caledonian Stadium. That provides the player with an ideal opportunity to establish his credentials and endear himself to the Tynecastle support.
“I was really gutted because I missed my penalty. They missed their first one so I could have put us ahead,” said McCallum. “But I missed it and it hit home to me then that, ‘wow, I need to do well here’. It wasn’t the greatest of starts for me.
“I would have liked to have scored in the 90 minutes or extra-time. I had the chance to do it with a penalty as well. So I definitely want to crack on and do well.
“The occasion showed me this is a huge club with a massive support. When I looked around the stadium to see who had the most fans Hearts had a huge support that day. I just want to do well and hopefully the fans will take to me.”
McCallum received a rapturous reception from the Hearts fans when he came on as substitute during the semi-final – a welcome that will live with him for a long time.
“When I came on the fans went a bit crazy and that gave me a lot of adrenaline. The game then sort of switched and we went 2-1 up after I had been on the pitch for 15 minutes. I thought: ‘This is great. I had come on and the game had changed and we were going to win.
“Then Inverness went down to nine men and I thought the win was definitely cemented. But they dug deep and fought hard and got the draw to take the game to extra time and then penalties. I am always confident taking penalties so I said I would go first. But unfortunately the keeper saved it.”