HEARTS coach Robbie Neilson insists Callum Paterson is already over the disappointment of his red card at Hamilton, which was rescinded yesterday by the Scottish Football Association.
A disciplinary tribunal upheld Hearts’ appeal against the decision, allowing the defender to face Inverness next week.
Paterson attended the hearing in person alongside Neilson and Hearts’ director of football Craig Levein. Replays of the incident proved he won the ball in his tackle on Hamilton’s Darian MacKinnon. The red card issued by referee Willie Collum for serious foul play was reduced to a yellow for recklessly dangerous play, and he has thus avoided a two-game ban.
He left Hampden and returned to the Scotland Under-21 camp to continue preparations for tomorrow’s match with Northern Ireland in Lurgan. He is certain to start the match and Neilson stressed he is focused on helping Scotland begin their European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign with a win.
“I’ve spoken to Callum and he’s over it. It’s part and parcel of football and we just have to deal with it. I’ve got no issue with him playing at all tomorrow, he’ll be absolutely fine,” Neilson told the Evening News.
With five players in Ricky Sbragia’s squad, Neilson is now praying his youngsters return to Riccarton unscathed. Alongside Paterson are fellow Tynecastle players Sam Nicholson, Billy King, Jordan McGhee and Jack Hamilton. “It’s great when your players are away on international duty because it gives them experience, but you’re always worried they could pick up an injury,” admitted Neilson. “Fingers crossed, they will get through these games okay. It’s great for them to go and play with Scotland Under-21s, we just want to make sure they come back fit for Hearts.”
Neilson believes some of his players have the potential to break into the senior Scotland squad in time. He stressed Hearts would do everything possible to help them achieve that aim. We would love to try and get some of them into the full team if we can. It’s about them working hard and us trying to develop them to help them get there,” he said. “It’s up to them to try and play well, progress and push to get into the senior side. They know they need to get into the Hearts team and be consistent. Then they have to get into the Under-21s and be consistent at that level as well before they have a chance of getting anywhere near the full team.”