Gary Mackay: Corridor of power at Hearts needs a strong director and I have names in mind

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Big appointment lies ahead for the Tynecastle board.

Appointing a new youth academy director is a crucial task for Hearts in the weeks ahead. The person occupying that role isn’t always front and centre of the club because first-team matters take precedence, but it is a really important role in the overall context of player progress.

There will no doubt be a whole range of different candidates in the equation but I have my own thoughts on who should be consulted, at least. The two guys I feel have been best at producing kids in Edinburgh in the recent past are Donald Park and Sandy Clark.

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If you were able to put their qualities together, you would have as good an academy leader as you could hope for. They have skills as coaches, skills managing younger players and skills within a team ethic which allow individuals to flourish.

Donald was at Hibs and Sandy was at Hearts, although Donald worked at Hearts more recently. I’d like to see Hearts speak to those two because they will know better than anybody who the right people are for developing young players. They have a wealth of experience of youth football and a real aptitude for honing kids behind the scenes.

Another person who sprung to mind is a former colleague of mine, Davie Bowman. For me, he has always continued to bring a player or two through within his various coaching positions at Dundee United. Many of them have got into the first team at Tannadice.

Hearts have signed 17 young players up on extended contracts recently and that has to be seen as a positive for anybody concerned with academy development at the club. Going forward, you want as many young players as possible given the opportunity to become full-time professionals.

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From there, it’s about learning and developing so that some of them might progress into first-team regulars. I’ve said many times in this column that our academy should be producing more so it will be interesting to see who is appointed.

Hopefully, Hearts get the right person in to carry this forward and drive the whole academy on to a new level.

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