Daniel Stendel outlines plans for youngsters at Hearts - players such as Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald will get chance
New Hearts manager outlines his plans for the future
Daniel Stendel outlined his intention to inject some youthfulness into the Hearts side as he explained that he will run the rule over teenagers like Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald in the coming weeks.
The new manager views promoting from the academy as the way forward for Hearts and is eager to add a fresh sprinkling of youth to a team which has generally been heavily reliant on senior players. Aaron Hickey and Andy Irving are the only two homegrown youngsters to have had any notable involvement this season, with several of the club’s highly-regarded young players - including Cochrane, McDonald, Connor Smith and Alex Petkov - currently on loan to lower-league Scottish clubs.
McDonald and Cochrane, who are both on loan at Dunfermline Athletic, were the two name-checked by Stendel as contenders to be recalled by their parent club in January as the German attempts to familiarise himself with all the players potentially available to him.
“I look to the future and I want to bring more young players into the squad,” he said. “I want to see them in training to see what they can do. We have a few young players like Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald who are out on loan. We want them to train with us because I hear they have a lot of potential. I know they can’t play with us until at least January but I want to look at them in training. I want to get a feeling for all of the players who are in the squad before January to see what we need.”
Stendel believes promoting young players is key to developing a culture and identity at the club, and also to prove to other academy players that there is a genuine pathway to the Hearts first team.
“It is important to show young players they will get the chance to show they can play in the first team here,” he said. “I think it is important we are a club who improve and develop our young players. We will give them a chance to play in the Premiership, that is the goal.
“We need to give all players in this club a target, show what can be achieved and they say to themselves: ‘OK, next time this is for me. What is the biggest aim for me?’ I hope the biggest aim of all the young players here is to play at Tynecastle.”
Stendel’s previous club Barnsley placed an emphasis on recruiting young players and developing them, and, with Hearts having spent the past five-and-a-half years rebuilding their academy since exiting administration in 2014, the German insists he feels strongly about utilising homegrown talent.
“Yeah, because I think this is the easiest way when you’ve invested in an academy, a coaching staff and young players who have come here to improve themselves,” he said. “It’s not expensive, and the identity of the club is going to be stronger because the young players say: ‘OK, I train to play at Tynecastle.’ This is a good thing, that the players feel this and know this.”
Stendel, who officially started his new role on Tuesday, has spent this week getting to know the players at his disposal ahead of today’s match at home to St Johnstone. “I have learned more things about the club and the players over the last few days,” he said. “It has given me a better idea in terms of what we can do and things we can look to change. The first impression is good and it seems all the players want to improve. Everyone at the club wants to move forward.
“I think we have the players who can play to my style. I know we have some important players who are out injured right now but you can’t change that. The players who trained well this week did very well. Some of them know they can play better than they maybe have so far this season.”
Owner Ann Budge explained on Tuesday that Hearts will have to look at shipping some players out in January after admitting that the squad had become bloated. For the time being at least, Stendel’s options are limited, with John Souttar, Ben Garuccio, Steven Naismith, Conor Washington and Peter Haring all injured and Jake Mulraney suspended for his opening match.
“At the moment, I don’t have a choice of 25 players,” he said, when asked about having to trim the squad. “In training, without the young players who have come in, we have a squad of 18 fit. I will see what I can do over the next few weeks and go from there. We have more coming back in January, so I will have time to see them all, I think.”