Cammy Devlin: I don't want left out and I don't need a rest if Hearts are rotating players
There is probably enough energy coursing through Cammy Devlin to power the floodlights at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night. It is no surprise that he doesn’t feel a rest is necessary.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson plans to utilise the squad for trips to St Johnstone and Aberdeen over the coming days, but Devlin is adamant he does not want a break. The diminutive Australian has played every minute of the last four matches and has his answer prepared if the question comes.
“If he [Neilson] asks how I’m feeling, whether I’m burst or not, I’m going to be telling him I’m 100 per cent,” he said. “I do actually feel really good and I think that’s the same for all the boys. The squad depth in this team is the best I’ve ever been a part of.
“The guys sitting in the stand could come in and be one of the best on the park. Aaron McEneff and Jamie Walker are two of the best players in training. Jamie has scored 53 goals for Hearts and Aaron McEneff scored at Celtic earlier in the season.
“Whoever plays in these next two games will want to do a great job. I want to play every single game. If I start on Wednesday and again on Saturday, I’ll be buzzing and ready to go.”
Devlin’s knowledge on Jamie Walker’s goal tally is impressive for someone who only arrived in the country a few weeks ago. “It’s not my knowledge, it’s him telling me every day,” he laughed.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw with Dundee at Tynecastle on Saturday, Hearts’ ten-game unbeaten Premiership record goes on the line with two of the division’s toughest away matches. You might argue they are exactly the type of fixtures the ever-competitive Devlin was signed for.
A notable theme from the midfielder’s initial Hearts appearances is the tenacity he offers. Be there a tackle to be won, an opponent to be hustled, or an argument to be had off the ball, he is invariably there with bells on.
“I can’t help myself sometimes,” he smirked. “We are up near the top of the league and teams near the bottom can come and grind out results at our ground, which I’d imagine is a very tough place to play. It just shows the quality of the league.
“It was great to be back at Tynecastle with the home fans against Dundee. They spurred us on. We played great football at times and created some unreal chances. On another day, they hit the net and we are 2-0 or 3-0 up at half-time. It’s how we react now.
“It’s good that we have a game on Wednesday. We need to go to St Johnstone and bounce back quickly because that’s what good teams do. We have shown we can get results away from home, one of the toughest was last week [at Rangers].”
As expectation levels rise with Hearts challenging near the top of the Premiership, some fans vented their frustration at the final whistle on Saturday. Drawing with Dundee left many irritated and Devlin can understand their emotions.
“Hearts is a club that should expect big things, whether we’ve just got promoted or not. It’s a massive club, one of the biggest in Scotland. We have expectations as a group and the fans have expectations as well. They want us to win, especially at home.
Back the fans
“That’s fair enough. You expect that playing in front of nearly 20,000 every week. I back the fans in the way that their expectations meet ours as a group.”
His own reception from supporters has been wholly positive. The brand of relentless passion and commitment Devlin shows will always endear a player to the Hearts public. It is something he was mindful of when signing a two-year contract.
“With how we’ve been going this season, I think the fans have been class with all the boys. Because I came in a bit later, it was important I tried to make a positive impact on the team. I did my best to make that happen.
“The reaction, even when I’m walking down the street sometimes, is really good. Everyone seems really friendly and happy to have me here, which is so exciting for me. It makes me feel welcome as someone from the other side of the world.
“On the pitch, when anyone makes a challenge and the crowd get right behind it, then it spurs the whole team on to give that little bit more.”
The level of adulation is far removed from Australia, where other sports like cricket and Australian rules football are more popular than Devlin’s chosen profession.
“That’s the big difference between the Australian league and here in Europe. The passion they have for football is bigger here,” he explained. “The social media side of it is as big in Australia but I tend to try and stay away from all that.
“I focus on what people think of me as a person rather than what they’re typing behind a screen. I don’t read too much into it. The reaction from fans here is brilliant. The stadium is packed every time we play and seeing how much they love the game is great.
“I had some friends from back home who were at the game on Saturday. My mum and dad are coming over for Christmas, which is something I’m looking forward to. The restrictions have eased and although I’m without family I’m feeling right at home here.”