Hearts' chief creator Barrie McKay gives his thoughts on possible Scotland call-up
Most goals Hearts score involve Barrie McKay at some stage, such is the forward’s influence on the Tynecastle side.
The wait for a strike of his own in maroon continues but creating with such regularity makes him a potential candidate for a Scotland recall.
With national coach Steve Clarke in attendance, McKay conjured the opener for Ellis Simms in Saturday’s 2-0 win at St Mirren. He rarely lets a week pass without some kind of meaningful attacking influence. Be it an assist or pre-assist, his sorcery contributes enormously to the Edinburgh club’s European quest.
He was asked about international recognition after the final whistle in Paisley. “Everyone wants to play for their country and, if it came along, I’d be buzzing about it but I just need to play away with Hearts. It was one of the reasons I came here,” he explained.
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“The manager told me I had to push for that place and that I could get noticed. The only way that will happen is if I do well consistently. If you ask any player, the most important factor is playing regularly and maybe I didn’t get enough games down south. But I’m enjoying my football now and enjoying creating chances for the boys.
“We have a lot still to play for this season, including the Scottish Cup, but we take it one game at a time so all we’re thinking about at the moment is Aberdeen on Wednesday. That’s the most important one.”
St Mirren were reduced to ten men after only 22 minutes when Conor Ronan was red-carded for a high challenge on Beni Baningime. After Simms broke the deadlock, Cammy Devlin claimed his first Hearts goal to finish the game as a contest.
McKay could only look on with a touch of envy. He is joint-fourth in the Premiership assists table but that first goal remains elusive. “The most important thing for me is that I’m influencing games and helping the team. Cammy got his first goal and even Craig Gordon said to me: ‘You’re next.’
“I’ll keep trying to get into the right positions and I’m sure the goals will come. I’m playing consistently well and I have the assists. Having that run of games has built up my fitness and my confidence.”
The former Rangers winger has certainly matured since leaving Ibrox five years ago. “You take each experience from your different clubs and that’s what made me what I am today. When I was a young boy I was maybe a bit naive at times but I’m more mature now, which is what the manager is looking for,” he said.
““Everyone wants to be the team’s most creative player and that’s something I take pride in. When I first came here it was all about building relationships and now I think I’ve established a really good one with Liam Boyce.
“We create chances for each other. I’m still waiting for my first goal and, the longer that goes on, the more I’ll probably think about it. As long as I’m setting them up for others then I won’t worry about it too much.”
St Mirren (4-2-3-1): Alnwick; Fraser, Shaughnessy, Dunne, Tait; Power (Brophy 69), Gogic; Kiltie (Flynn 62), Ronan, Jones; Grieve (Main 62).
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Atkinson (Cochrane 55), Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley (Halliday 69); Devlin (Haring 69), Baningime; Woodburn (Simms 55), McKay, Mackay-Steven (Ginnelly 55); Boyce.
Referee: Greg Aitken.