ARVYDAS NOVIKOVAS is poised to play from the start for Hearts against Inverness tomorrow with a challenge from manager John McGlynn to add more consistency to his game. The Lithuanian winger will replace David Templeton, who begins a two-game SFA suspension.
McGlynn is eager for Novikovas to produce his best form after playing a bit-part role for most of his time at Tynecastle. With Templeton missing against Inverness and on Sunday week at Aberdeen, the 21-year-old has a prime opportunity to stake a claim for a regular place in the Hearts team.
For long enough, Novikovas has been regarded as an impact substitute who can change the course of games during the latter stages.
But McGlynn believes he can start more matches if he produces on a regular basis. “It does give Novikovas a chance,” McGlynn told the Evening News. “He’s come on as a sub against St Johnstone and Hibs and had some form of impact because he is an impact player.
“He scored for Lithuania Under-21s on Wednesday night so his confidence will be high after that. What he has to do is show consistency. It’s all very well being an impact player, but when you are in from the start you need to play a bigger part. It’s not easy to be an impact player but if you come on, and you have pace and energy for the last 20 minutes of a game when others are tiring, you can look good.
“I would assume that, before my time, Arvydas started games and didn’t really produce. It’s up to him to make sure he isn’t just an impact player.
“We’ve heard the phrase ‘super-sub’ many times in the past but you want to be more than a ‘super-sub’. You want to start games and produce from the kick-off.
“You can then play 60 or 70 minutes and then someone else can come on and play their part as an impact player. That’s the situation Arvydas wants to get into, so that he is doing the business and then someone else can come on. It’s really up to him to take the jersey. He’s been patient but now he needs to be selfish and say ‘this is my opportunity, I want to take it’.
“We have options in the wide areas with him and with Jamie Walker. These guys floated in and out during the pre-season friendlies and we are fortunate that we do have that talent which we can turn to. I don’t have a great deal to worry about.”
Another player in contention to start tomorrow is Mehdi Taouil. “He has had an influence against St Johnstone and Hibs,” continued McGlynn. “He came on and got us a footing back in the game so he’s impressed from that point of view and he’s in consideration for tomorrow. He also needs to go and do it from the start of games.”
Meanwhile, an extra 2000 tickets for next week’s Europa League match with Liverpool have been made available to Tynecastle season ticket holders and supporters with one or more loyalty points. Those went on sale at 9am today until 2pm tomorrow.