Hearts manager Craig Levein today revealed why he picked new goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin over Jack Hamilton against Aberdeen.
Hamilton was left disappointed by the decision but Levein stressed he didn’t want to unsettle the 23-year-old any more after a difficult summer. He wanted 30-year-old McLaughlin’s experience for his first game in charge of Hearts after agreeing to return to the dugout.
Hamilton had the No.1 jersey taken from him at the start of pre-season by former head coach Ian Cathro. He now wears No.13 but had played every Premiership and League Cup match this season prior to McLaughlin’s arrival.
The former Burton Albion keeper made his debut and kept a clean sheet against Aberdeen – part of a strong Hearts performance at Murrayfield. Levein explained that the choice was straightforward.
“It was a simple decision. Jack has had a lot of things to contend with,” the manager told the Evening News. “He hasn’t had a chance to feel comfortable at any point since the season started. This was another thing which could’ve been stressful – playing at a different stadium, in front of 25,000 people.
“I just felt Jon has been there and done it. Jack hasn’t. Jack started the season well so it was purely about experience. I felt we needed that experience just to bring us a level of calmness.”
Levein took Hamilton aside to explain his decision on Friday, 24 hours before the Aberdeen match. He insisted it doesn’t mean the Scotland squad keeper will spend the rest of the season on the substitutes’ bench.
“I spoke to Jack, of course. He is disappointed,” said Levein. “I’d be disappointed in him if he wasn’t disappointed. He’s a strong boy and the next thing for him is, when he gets his opportunity, to make sure he stays in the team.”