Hearts manager Gary Locke admits he has a selection dilemma over what to do with 17-year-old Jordan McGhee for this afternoon’s match against Celtic.
With first-choice left-back Kevin McHattie available again, the youngster may need to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench despite an impressive display in last week’s 0-0 draw in Inverness.
McHattie and Callum Paterson are back after serving a one-match suspension in the Highlands and McGhee may find himself an unfortunate casualty of their return. Locke acknowledged McGhee’s performance whilst out of position at left-back against Inverness and said he had a big decision to make on his defence today.
“It would be difficult to leave Jordan out because, although he’s not a left-back, he came in last week and did well. It’s great to have a young lad like that who you can put in and know he’s going to do a really good job for you. That’s why you’re the manager, to make these decisions.
“It’s great that McHattie and Paterson are back in the squad. Last week, you could probably say the team picked itself. Those two being available again gives us one or two more options.”
Regardless of who is selected to start in defence, Locke warned that Hearts must cope with the pace and movement of Celtic forwards Kris Commons, Anthony Stokes and Leigh Griffiths.
“The movement of Commons, Stokes and Griffiths last week against St Johnstone was fantastic. We were at the game and they were different class,” continued the manager.
“The players get information on every player they are about to face, whether it’s Celtic or a third division team we’re playing. We prepare the exact same for every game. We make our players aware of the runs their opponents will make and the positions they will take up. We try our best to do as much homework as possible on each team.
“Celtic are the best team in the country by a mile. It’s a big game and a difficult test for us but it’s one we’re all looking forward to. As a player and as a manager, you want to play against the best and that’s what’s going to happen this weekend.”
As a former Hibs favourite, Griffiths is sure of a hot reception at Tynecastle. “It’s the same when some of our players to go Easter Road or Parkhead, they always get a nice reception. I’m sure tomorrow will be no different,” smiled Locke.
“One thing about Celtic is that they’re great professionals and you see in their performances, especially at Tynecastle, that they’re very focused. We’ll have to be on our toes because Celtic are all full internationals and will cause you problems if you don’t handle them.”