Gary Mackay: Hearts must not devalue one of our best assets in Aaron Hickey

Youngster must be played in best position to realise potential

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 6:00 am
Aaron Hickey is Hearts' biggest asset. Pic: SNS
Aaron Hickey is Hearts' biggest asset. Pic: SNS

Aaron Hickey took everybody by surprise with the way he coped with the Scottish Cup final.

It was a bold call to play him and it turned out to be the right call. He has continued to stand out in other games and has set about establishing himself as a first-choice. However, as a club we have a duty to protect Aaron from burnout.

Young players can lose confidence very quickly if things aren’t going well and Aaron, through no fault of his own, is now being shunted about different positions across the defence in a team which is really struggling. It obviously shows he’s trusted by the management that they feel they can move him into different positions but in order to maintain his confidence levels, if he’s going to be played every week, he needs to be used at left-back, which is where he clearly looks most comfortable. We don’t want to ruin one of our biggest assets.

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Our developing of young players in general has been pretty questionable for some time now, even going way back to when John Murray was in charge of the academy. I’ve kept hearing over the years how we’re so good at producing homegrown players, but I’ve not seen a great deal of evidence.

Hickey, who came in from Celtic, has obviously done very well, and Andy Irving has featured fairly regularly, but beyond that, our youngsters don’t seem to be clamouring to get into a struggling first team.

Anthony McDonald and Harry Cochrane, who were supposed to be the poster boys of the revitalised academy, are both out on loan at Dunfermline at a time when we’re crying out for a bit of quality in midfield and some flair in attack.

Given the facilities we have, and the resource we have invested, we are not producing enough players of our own, which was supposed to be a big part of the post-administration plan.

We are underachieving and underdeveloping in relation to the money we are spending. There needs to be a pretty ruthless restructure at our club in order to get more for our pound.