BRAD McKAY still has a “massive role” to play for Hearts this season, according to manager Gary Locke. The 20-year-old defender was dropped for the weekend draw with Dundee United but will remain a prominent member of Locke’s squad as the campaign goes on.
After a disappointing display in last week’s League Cup tie with Queen of the South, McKay found himself relegated to the substitutes’ bench for United’s visit to Tynecastle on Saturday. The player was disappointed having started every game for Hearts this season, but Locke told the Evening News today that he is not being punished.
“Brad’s had a fantastic start to the season. We felt it was just the right time to give him a wee rest. He has a massive role to play for the rest of the season,” explained Locke. “That’s one of the things this season with so many young players. It’s important we look after them as best we can. Jordan McGhee came in and did really well on Saturday. Dylan McGowan had a good game at centre-back as well.”
McGhee, like McKay a graduate of the Hearts youth academy, impressed at right-back in what was only his second senior start. Locke has high hopes for the 17-year-old’s career prospects.
“Jordan can go all the way. We make that point to the young players, that they must keep their feet on the ground and not get carried away with themselves. They’re all doing well but it’s a long season and we have a long way to go. Hopefully they can keep producing these types of performances. Jordan’s got great composure and he’s been doing really well for us. He thoroughly
deserves his opportunity. I thought, after the initial ten minutes on Saturday, he went on and had a really good game. The most pleasing thing is that these young boys can come on and do a job for us at this level.”
Ryan Stevenson will continue his bid for full fitness by facing St Mirren Under-20s at Airdrie tonight.
Stevenson, ruled out for six weeks with a torn medial ligament, played 20 minutes of Saturday’s draw with Dundee United is aiming to put himself in contention for a starting slot for this weekend’s crunch clash with St Mirren at Tynecastle.