Craig Levein plans to nurture Hearts’ latest group of youth academy graduates in the reserve league before considering them for first-team football.
Chris Hamilton, Cammy Logan, Connor Smith and Leeroy Makovora all received senior debuts at the age of 16 last weekend in Hearts’ final Premiership game of the season against Kilmarnock.
Their inclusion became necessary due to injuries and suspension affecting more experienced colleagues. Manager Levein is encouraged by the progress of all four and others at the same age level, but he won’t flood his first-team squad with kids next year.
The number of Riccarton pupils who have played in the Hearts first team over the last 12 months reached double figures, a testament to the productivity of the Hearts youth academy.
Harry Cochrane, Anthony McDonald and Euan Henderson are amongst the promising teenagers who broke through this season. They will stay in the first team but others need to be patient.
“The likes of Harry, Anthony, Henderson and Lewis Moore will stay involved,” Levein told the Evening News. “The others have performed really well but I don’t think too many will be pushing for first-team places next season.
“The mental side and being able to cope in that sense is the most important thing. You never know, but I’d be surprised if any of the new ones who came in will make as rapid progress as Harry and Anthony, for example.”