JAMIE WALKER is aiming to better last season’s haul of 11 goals as he and his Hearts team-mates take their place back in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The midfielder hit a stunning goal after coming off the bench in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Raith and is expected to feature from the start as Hearts travel to Dumbarton for tonight’s pre-season fixture.
The 22-year-old’s form last term saw him nominated for the PFA Championship Player of the Year and claim his club’s Young Player and Fans’ Player of the Year awards. His goal return was second only to strikers Osman Sow and Genero Zeefuik and, while aiming to improve on those stats, Walker is well aware that such a feat is easier said than done now that Robbie Neilson’s side are back amongst Scotland’s elite.
“I scored eleven last season so I’m going for a few more this season” he said. “It’s a big season for me – I did well last year but that was only in the Championship so I’m looking to do the same in the Premiership but you never know what might happen. I’m a wide player, I’m an attacking player so I’m expected to create goals and score goals – that’s what I’m there for and hopefully I can score a few more than previously.”
Walker emerged as an important player as the Gorgie club ran away with the Championship title. A number of important goals along the way – notably a stunning equaliser in the New Year Edinburgh derby – resulted in Spanish outfit Real Betis being credited with an interest in the player.
The academy graduate accepts that speculation and expectation come with the territory when playing for Hearts, and is firmly focused on continuing to produce his best for the club.
“I was fine with it [the speculation]. There were obviously a few rumours but they were just rumours. I just need to keep playing here – it’s a big club with a big fan base so I’m delighted to be playing every week. I’m enjoying it here but, in the future, you never know where it could take you. I’ve got a family now but I’m happy to just see where it goes.”
As for Hearts’ prospects following promotion, Walker wasn’t revealing any specific targets Neilson and his staff may have set for the squad, but he believes they are well equipped for the step back up. We’re a big club with a good squad here. We’ve got good, young players and a bit of experience as well. We’re just looking to the St Johnstone game to hopefully get off to a good start and you never know where it might take us.”