DAVID TEMPLETON has multiple aspirations for season 2012/13: Avoid injury, play every week, recapture previous form and help Hearts achieve second place in the Scottish Premier League. The winger is aiming high this year, driven on by the frustrations of last season.
Groin and hernia problems curtailed Templeton’s progress and ultimately led to him watching in a collar and tie as his colleagues lifted the Scottish Cup in May after a historic 5-1 mauling of rivals Hibs. He is now fully recovered from summer surgery, however, and eager to impose himself upon new manager John McGlynn. So far, so good.
McGlynn views Templeton as a key component of his Hearts team judging on pre-season. He was expected to use the player as an orthodox winger in his favoured 4-3-3 formation today, with St Johnstone due to visit Tynecastle to open the new SPL season.
Both men are aware that a rare opportunity exists in Scotland this season with Rangers now in the Third Division. Hearts, along with Dundee United, are two of the favourites to capitalise and mount a challenge to Celtic. Templeton is keen to get started.
“I’m really looking forward to this year. Hopefully I can play well and keep my place in the team every week. It’s good the way the gaffer plays, it suits me and the rest of the wingers perfectly,” he explained. “Everyone in that dressing-room is at least aiming for second. With Rangers being out now, I think that’s what everyone’s got to look for, to try and secure second place.
“I’m looking to stay clear of injuries. My groins are all fixed now and I’m looking for consistency. I was looking for that last season but I never got it. The other year during November/December (season 2010/11) is the best I’ve every played so I want to get back to that. I was doing it week in, week out and that’s what I’m looking to get back to. I feel really sharp now.”
Templeton isn’t one to look back but finds it difficult to forget how injuries prevented him reaching optimum form last year. He wants to channel the negative energy experienced then into a positive for the future. “I was feeling good one game, then the next week I was sore halfway through. Then I’d be sore from the start and I was just trying to battle through things. I did that in the Motherwell game and ended up rupturing my groin. Obviously that was a big setback and I was out for eight or nine weeks.
“I don’t want setbacks like that again.”
Even though he was recovered and fit for the cup final, McGlynn’s predecessor Paulo Sergio left him out of the final squad due to lack of match sharpness. That prompted the sight of Templeton, suited and booted, looking on from the stand. “It was disappointing not to be involved. I was struggling with a double hernia so I can see why the manager didn’t select me,” said the 23-year-old.
“Paulo didn’t say anything to me at all, I just found out when he named his team. I was quite surprised because I thought he would maybe have pulled me aside, but nothing. I was disappointed because I felt I was fit enough to take part but that’s just part of football. Hopefully, we can get to another final this season.
“Stuff like that makes you want to win trophies. I didn’t take it very well at the time. I was happy for the boys winning the cup but, when I saw them up lifting the trophy, I did feel a bit gutted because I wanted to be involved.”