ROBBIE NEILSON today told Dale Carrick he still has a big future at Hearts despite missing most of the season through injury. The striker has recovered from persistent hamstring trouble but is now looking at next season for a comeback. Neilson is adamant he will play a part back in the Premiership.
Carrick, 21, has managed only six appearances for Hearts and two on loan at Raith Rovers during a campaign in which he has been ravaged by injury. He was sidelined by a hamstring tear in October, recovered to join Raith on loan in January but had to return to Riccarton when another hamstring problem occurred in only his second outing for the Fife club.
He hasn’t played competitively since, although he did manage 40 minutes for Hearts Under-20s against Hamilton last week. Neilson, the Hearts head coach, is eager to have the young forward involved next season. He insisted Carrick still has a bright future at Tynecastle.
“Dale is back and played 40 minutes for the under-20s last week, so hopefully he’ll push on from there. I think he’s just glad to be over his injury now,” said Neilson. “He’d probably hope that the season would last another couple of months because he’s just starting to get himself fit and we’re about to break up.
“He came to me last week and asked if he could play in the under-20s. We hadn’t planned to put him in. We intended giving him another week’s training but he wanted to play. I think he’s just desperate to get going now.
“Dale has a big future here. He’s had a difficult season. Last year he did really well, coming as a young player and scoring some really important goals. This one has been difficult for him. He’ll come back for pre-season and be part of the squad. I see him being involved next season, similar to young Gary Oliver.”