Neil Alexander backs Scott Gallacher to succeed at Hearts

Hearts' recent signing, goalkeeper Scott Alexander. Photograph: SNS
Hearts' recent signing, goalkeeper Scott Alexander. Photograph: SNS
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Neil Alexander is adamant that Scott Gallacher will prove a shrewd acquisition for Hearts after emphatically urging the club’s management to sign his old Rangers goalkeeping colleague.

The 25-year-old former Scotland Under-21 internationalist signed a two-year deal at Tynecastle last Friday following a wholehearted recommendation from Alexander to director of football Craig Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson.

The veteran goalkeeper/coach, who is due to make his competitive debut for Hearts in tomorrow’s Petrofac Training Cup clash at home to Annan tomorrow, worked closely with Gallacher for five and a half years at Rangers and believes he can still fulfil his early promise and emerge as one of Scotland’s top goalkeepers.

“I’ve always thought Gall’s a very good goalkeeper,” Alexander told the Evening News. “When we found out he’d been released by Rangers he immediately became a target and someone I thought would improve the squad and create a bit of competition for us. I was asked about him and had no hesitation in saying ‘yeah, let’s get him in’. There was never any doubt for me that if we could get him in, we should do it. He has the potential to be a real top goalkeeper.”

Gallacher was released by Rangers at the end of last season after failing to establish himself in the first team. The bulk of his senior appearances so far have come on loan at Cowdenbeath, Forfar and Airdrieonians, while a difficult debut for Hearts in a 3-0 friendly defeat at Dundee on Tuesday was his first outing since last November. “It’s difficult when you’re young to break into the Rangers team, especially for a goalkeeper, where the position is so specialised and they’re more likely to go for experience,” explained Alexander. “Gall’s learned his trade at Rangers – he works hard and he’s got a great attitude so hopefully Hearts can reap the benefits of him in the future. He’s played games out on loan and gained experience which is only going to improve him. Hopefully that’s him served his apprenticeship and now we can get the best out of him.

“He’s only going to get better as he gets older and when he settles down at Hearts. That was his first game for a long time the other night, so he’ll get better the longer he’s here. It was always going to be tough for him coming in for his first game when we’d made so many changes to the rest of the team. He made a few good saves and was unlucky with a few of the goals, but it’s still pre-season.

“I’m looking forward to working with Gall for the next couple of years and hopefully I can improve him and help him be a really good competitor for the No.1 jersey. I think he’ll prove to be a very good goalkeeper for Hearts.”

Meanwhile, Neilson has questioned the rule that allows suspensions to be carried over from one season to the next. Scott Robinson and Jamie Walker are both due to miss the start of the league campaign as a result of bookings accumulated last term. Robinson has a three-game ban, one of which is due to a pre-season friendly dismissal, while Walker will miss the opening game away to Rangers. “I don’t believe it should carry over,” said the head coach. “I had the same situation myself as a player. You get penalised for playing in Scotland the season before but guys who come in from abroad who might have had a suspension aren’t banned when they come here.”