Paul McCallum in line for Hearts debut in semi-final

Paul McCallum
Paul McCallum
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Paul McCallum will go straight into Hearts’ squad for Sunday’s League Cup semi-final with Inverness after joining from West Ham United.

The 20-year-old striker completed a six-month loan move last night and was due to train with his new team-mates for the first time this morning.

His arrival in place of Adam King was permitted by the Scottish Professional Football League. They will assess applications from Hearts to sign players on a one in, one out basis despite the club being in administration.

However, the governing body refused a request to register Rudi Skacel in place of goalkeeping coach Alan Combe.

Hearts manager Gary Locke explained today that he wants McCallum – his first signing as manager – to make an immediate impact. The Englishman has previously been on loan at Torquay United, AFC 
Wimbledon, and Aldershot Town, scoring a total of ten goals in 24 matches.

“Paul comes highly recommended. He has a good pedigree, is powerful, good in the air and can score goals,” Locke said on the Hearts website. “I am sure he will be a good asset to the squad and he gives us an extra option, and is something different to what we have here. Hopefully he does well for us and can hit the ground running.”

Hearts administrator Bryan Jackson added: “I am grateful to the SPFL for the speed and fairness of this decision which allows Adam King to be swiftly replaced with Paul. We are disappointed that the application for Rudi Skacel was rejected but understand the reasons for the SPFL’s decision.”

In a statement, the SPFL board explained their reasoning for denying Skacel the chance to join Hearts for a third time. It read: “In relation to the application to register Rudi Skacel, the board considered a range of factors, including the fact that 34-year-old midfielder Skacel was being proposed to replace a 39-year-old goalkeeper/goalkeeping coach who has not appeared on any first team squad list in any Premiership match for Heart of Midlothian this season.”

There is further good news for Hearts supporters after Ryan Stevenson committed his future to the club. He has rejected interest from several suitors including St Mirren and the Romanian side University Cluj.

“There’s been offers put on the table for me but I said a couple of weeks ago that I was happy to, hopefully, spend as long as I possibly can at Hearts and my mind never changed,” said the player, who is in his second spell in Gorgie.

“I didn’t think it was right to come out as early as last week and say things and be disrespectful to people, so I’ve sort of been biding my time and now I’d like to put it to bed. I’m going to be here for as long as I possibly can. Everything about the club has me smitten, even more so this time with the situation and the way the fans have been in keeping the club going. The task that we’ve all been forced into is something that I’m happy to be part of, I’m grateful to be part of and I’ll hopefully be here to get Hearts back to where they should be.

“If Hearts were playing on the moon then I’d be playing on the moon with Hearts. I still want to spend as long as I possibly can. If I’m lucky enough and blessed enough to be here until the end of my career then I’d definitely do that.”

Meanwhile, the Evening News has learned that Dylan McGowan had a tight hamstring against St Mirren on Wednesday evening and was substituted as a precaution. Hearts are confident he will be fit for Sunday’s semi-final.