Andy Irving explains why he’s had to grow up quickly at Hearts
Hearts midfielder Andy Irving today explained how he has had to grow up quickly this season amid mounting criticism at Tynecastle Park. The 19-year-old is thriving on his longest run in the first team, but it is tempered somewhat by ongoing poor league form and fans’ discontent.
Hearts sit joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership entering today’s home match against Motherwell. Some supporters have voiced their anger at results and performances, meaning teenagers like Aaron Hickey and Irving have had to show maturity beyond their years.
Irving explained how he has tried to thrive on the pressure. “It’s obviously tough but like a lot of young guys – Hickey will be the same – you just want to go out and play football. That’s your mentality,” he said. “I have belief and so does everyone else that this will work out the way we want it to. We have a really good squad.
“Yes, you need to mature a bit quicker because it is very cut-throat and there’s a lot of pressure. At the end of the day, I just enjoy going out and playing football. The pressure is good, you know what you are coming into here. Hearts is a massive club and the fans expect us to win all the time. The players here have the highest standards and it drives everyone on. I think the pressure helps everyone because it kicks you on and helps you as well.”
After returning from a loan spell at Falkirk in January and going without a first-team appearance until the last day of the season, Irving has enjoyed more game time than he expected so far this term.
“I’ve loved it. I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s been a dream come true,” he said. “We have had a few good results and good performances but we need to put them all together and get on a little run.
“I was hoping I would be involved at the start of the season. I knew it was going to take hard work and I would have to come back in good shape from the summer. I knew it was down to me. If I worked hard, I was hoping I would get an opportunity. Luckily, I’ve been given a few so it’s been good.”
Midfield competition is fierce at Hearts but the youngster is using his opportunities wisely. “It’s obviously a very good squad with a lot of good players. I’m just glad I can learn from them every day. The experience of Glenn Whelan, Loic Damour, Peter [Haring] when he comes back is all really. When I play with them or train with them, I can learn.”