Billy King tipped to play major role for Hearts

Billy King challenges Livingston's Danny Mullen
Billy King challenges Livingston's Danny Mullen
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ROBBIE NEILSON today outlined Billy King’s importance to Hearts and insisted he can play a major part in the club’s title push.

The head coach said King’s impact as a substitute is a huge weapon but expects him to return to the starting line-up in the near future.

The 20-year-old winger turned the game in Hearts’ favour against Livingston on Saturday after replacing James Keatings. With the score 1-1, he created goals for new signing Kenny Anderson and fellow wide player Jamie Walker in the final eight minutes to help secure a vital 3-2 victory.

Neilson said Hearts will do everything possible to ensure King is hitting top form before putting him back into the team. The player has been hindered by an ankle complaint recently, but Neilson insisted he can be a key man during the final third of the season as the Edinburgh club aim to win the Scottish Championship.

“Billy hasn’t started the last few games but we know when we bring him on that he’ll give us something,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Eventually, he’ll get his form back again and he’ll start games and he’ll get back to what he was doing earlier in the season.

“When you play in the wide areas, you’re never going to play forty games and be top drawer every week all season. Your form fluctuates so it’s up to Stevie Crawford [assistant coach] and I to try and get the best out of the players. When they’re going through a sticky patch, we need to try and help them through it. That’s what we’ve been doing with Billy.

“All the players have given me food for thought after Saturday. We’ve got Prince (Buaben) coming back from suspension this week, Osman Sow will be back and Kenny has come on and scored. The options are there and it’s great to have.”

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed Brad McKay will serve a one-match suspension this Saturday when Hearts face Livingston for the second time in a week. The defender was red-carded in the dying seconds of Saturday’s encounter between the clubs for denying Livingston striker Myles Hippolyte a clear goalscoring opportunity. McKay must automatically sit out the next league fixture as a result.