Neilson challenges King to continue improvement

Hearts winger Billy King. Pic: LESLEY MARTIN

Hearts winger Billy King. Pic: LESLEY MARTIN

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ROBBIE NEILSON today called on Billy King to go to the next level with Hearts, labelling him one of the most technically gifted players at Tynecastle.

The young winger scored his first goal of the season against Annan in the Petrofac Training Cup on Saturday and Neilson, the club’s head coach, wants him to maintain consistency to cement a regular first-team place.

Confidence is flowing through King at the moment and the Hearts management team of Neilson and Stevie Crawford are encouraging him to express himself on the field. He finished last season strongly under former manager Gary Locke and has carried the good form into the new campaign.

Neilson believes the 20-year-old is the kind of winger who thrives on confidence. “Billy’s a good player with great ability and we’ve been working hard with him. He’s doing the right things now and it’s giving him confidence,” he told the Evening News. “I think he’s one of these boys who can go on to the next level again.

“He’s got pace, he can go by people on the right or left side and he’s got a great shot. It’s just adding bits here and there to his game, like the defensive side. Technically, he’s one of the best players we’ve got at the club. If he takes somebody on one against one, nine times out of ten he’ll go by them.

“I think a lot of young players are like that with confidence. It’s not till you get to about 26 or 27 that you don’t need that confidence. You just go out and do it week in and week out because you’ve got 150 or 200 games under your belt.

“When you’re young, you still have those doubts about whether you can do it or not. I know the boys here can do it.

“The key is for them to believe themselves that they can do it.”

King’s team-mate Callum Paterson was this morning still waiting to go for a scan on his injured left knee. Pain and swelling in the area meant it could not be scanned yesterday as planned. Hearts’ medical staff were hopeful that a scan could take place today at some point. Fears are that he damaged ligaments landing awkwardly during the match against Annan.

Hearts were due to find out their opponents for the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup today when the draw was made.