Hearts ace delighted to see Liam Boyce return even if it's at his expense

The recent absence of Liam Boyce from the starting XI granted an additional opportunity for Hearts’ crowded midfield corps, but even the main beneficiary, Josh Ginnelly, is delighted to see the Northern Irishman back in the starting XI.

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 7:00 am
Josh Ginnelly helps to promote the SPFL 2021/22 sticker collection as the Hearts star looks forward to Saturday's game against St Mirren. Picture: SNS

The former Preston North End winger played the majority of the last two games against Dundee United and Motherwell as the central striker, supported by Barrie McKay and Ben Woodburn, while Boyce nursed an injury.

The switch worked to perfection in the 5-2 victory over Dundee United. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of last weekend's dismal 2-0 loss in Motherwell, where the diminutive front three were overmatched physically and the game was all but over when a half-fit Boyce was reintroduced in the second half.

The striker has since fully recovered and is expected to start against St Mirren on Saturday. For Ginnelly, even if that means dropping out of the team, it can only be a good thing.

Sign up to our Hearts newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Boycey is a massive player for us,” said Ginnelly, speaking to promote the new 2021/22 SPFL Sticker Collection. “I think with him in the team, even if big Armand [Gnanduillet] is playing, we have a focal point up front. If the conditions are going against us we can use them to hold the ball up.

“Boycie is a brilliant player and so clever. Having him back will frighten teams because he has got everything.

“When Boycey came on it was a lot better against Motherwell and he suited that game. Myself, Ben and Barrie couldn’t really get into it as they had giants at the back.”

Robbie Neilson is not short of attacking-midfield options in the Tynecastle squad with Gary Mackay-Steven, Jamie Walker and Aaron McEneff also capable of playing in the position.

However, Ginnelly insists he harbours no resentment when he isn’t part of the starting line-up as frequent rest is required for arguably the most demanding role in the manager’s 3-4-3 system.

“We all know in our position the gaffer does not play us for the full 90s because we probably do the most,” he explained. “We have to shut lines off, press and get up and get next to Boyce or Armand.

"It’s quite tough in our position to play the full 90. We know that there are days when we’re coming on for 20, 30 minutes and the week after you’re starting. It’s just the way it goes. We’re trying to achieve something as a team.”

Ginnelly has made a positive impact this term but hasn’t quite lived up to his explosive contributions last season before injury cut his campaign short. The 24-year-old was comfortable admitting to this as he promised more goals and assists will come.

“To be honest I think I could do a lot more,” he said. “I’m not that type of player to start doubting myself, I know what I can do and it will come.

"In the last three or four games I’ve had three or four goal involvements, assist or goals or whatever. I’m not putting any pressure on myself, if we keep playing the way we do it will come out.”

Josh Ginnelly helped launch the new 2021/22 SPFL Sticker Collection – for more news and info follow @Topps_UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to Topps TV on YouTube.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.