Bobby Burns targets first-team place in new-look Hearts team

Bobby Burns showcased his competitive edge during his Hearts debut against Arbroath. Pic: SNS
Bobby Burns showcased his competitive edge during his Hearts debut against Arbroath. Pic: SNS
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Being the youngest of Hearts’ new signings doesn’t faze Bobby Burns in the slightest. The 18-year-old from Glenavon is already aiming to force his way into Craig Levein’s team for the season starting.

Burns is one of ten new recruits so far, with more to follow, and could be forgiven for being slightly intimidated by the level of competition for places at his new club. Not a chance.

He made his debut at half-time against Arbroath on Tuesday night and wasted little time in setting up Hearts’ second goal for Ross Callachan in the 2-1 victory. It is all part of the Northern Irishman’s plan.

“I don’t think it was that difficult settling in,” he explained on Hearts TV. “Obviously it’s a wee bit tough just getting to know people and the strengths and weaknesses of different players. We did well in both halves and to get the win was good. We did well as a team.

“We’ve been working on our shape for the last few days and the second goal came from something we’ve been working on. It’s quite pleasing. We had been talking about it through the week.

“Jake got the ball and I saw space in behind so I ran through. He played it up the line but I didn’t really look out for anybody. I just saw the space and tried to ping it in as quickly as I could. Thankfully, Ross was there just to tap it in.

“Just getting that taste of it whets your appetite and makes you want a bit more. Hopefully there will be more opportunities in the coming friendlies to prove a point to the manager for the start of the season.”

Burns is stepping up from part-time to full-time football by moving to Scotland. Hearts’ pre-season has been gruelling so far but the teenager is already reaping the rewards of extra training.

“It’s all worth it once you get back on the pitch. It’s not too enjoyable and the Gullane beach was a bit grim, to be honest,” he smiled.

“It’s basic fitness that we definitely need and you can you can feel the benefits of it. Coming towards the end [against Arbroath] we got the late goal. You feel a lot fitter and stronger. Although it’s tough at the time, it’s something that will stay with us throughout the rest of the season. I’m glad it’s all over now.”

The only new recruit not involved at Gayfield was the Czech goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal, who has a slight ankle injury. Hearts assistant coach Austin MacPhee is pleased with the early signs from the other nine.

“It was good to win the game,” he said. “It’s a good habit to get into and for us to see the boys we’ve brought to the club in action. In the most part, we were very pleased with what they had to offer. When you see the players for the first time, one of the things you want to see is that they can offer what you thought. A lot of them showed that.

“Olly Lee showed good composure on the ball, Uche [Ikpeazu] showed his strength, Peter [Haring] playing out of the back showed good composure and looks really strong in the air. Jake [Mulraney], at left wing-back, was quite explosive in the second half. Young Bobby did very well and was very competitive. This is what we expect from these players.

“They all see that there are a lot of players, so they have to be very competitive to get into the team.

“Being down at St Andrews has been a good environment for them and they’ve worked very hard. Going into the weekend, they will play for longer because the games will come thick and fast with the start of the [Betfred] Cup. After last year, we want to make sure we hit the ground running.”