Robbie Neilson today held Billy King up as a model of consistency after the Hearts winger scored twice as a substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Dumbarton.
King overcame the disappointment of being dropped following the 10-0 win against Cowdenbeath and staked a strong claim for a place in the starting line-up at Stark’s Park tomorrow night.
He climbed off the bench to deliver the corner for Danny Wilson to head Hearts 2-0 ahead and then scored twice himself in the final four minutes. Neilson, the Hearts head coach, stressed that the 20-year-old’s performances have been to a consistently high standard this season and admitted he is now difficult to leave out.
“It’s not that I leave him out and that’s it. We’ve got Walker, Nicholson, King, Anderson and El Hassnaoui who can all play in those positions,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Billy’s been doing fantastically well for us and he’s played a lot of matches. I’ve rotated it and given him a rest and he comes on at the weekend and does that, which is great.
“Players like that, wingers and wide players at a young age, can be quite erratic in their performance and fitness levels. There can be days when they just aren’t at it. It’s important we rest them and bring them in when we feel we need them. Billy’s been excellent this season. He’s started games and been great and he’s come off the bench and been great. I’m really pleased with him.
“He took the news very professionally when I told him he wasn’t starting, just as I expected him to. I explained the situation and it’s the same for all the players. You should always have respect for your fellow pros. It shouldn’t be a case of thinking you’re better than everyone else and you should be playing every week. We have a lot of good players who respect each other. They realise that, if they aren’t in the team, someone else is who is a good player.
“Billy is always going to come on and cause problems for teams with his pace and he’s very direct. He’s got great ability.”
• Hearts’ email address for applications to attend Dave Mackay’s funeral is Deniseoldham@homplc.co.uk. The address firstname.lastname@example.org which was given out is not correct.