Hearts assistant coach Stevie Crawford is advising the club’s fringe players to follow Jack Hamilton’s example when they face Livingston tonight.
Those who have not played much so far this season will feature in the Petrofac Training Cup tie and Crawford wants them to copy Hamilton’s composed display on his debut against Hibs at the weekend.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper handled the Edinburgh derby like a seasoned veteran despite conceding a first-half penalty which the Hibs captain Liam Craig missed. Hamilton helped Hearts earn a 2-1 win and was praised by head coach Robbie Neilson for his performance.
James Keatings, Gary Oliver, Brad McKay, David Smith and Scott Robinson are amongst the Hearts players eager to start tonight’s match at the Energy Assets Arena in West Lothian. Crawford said they would do well to take a leaf from young Hamilton’s book. “For boys who come in tonight, it’s about not getting carried away,” Crawford told the Evening News. “You’re probably looking at Jack at the weekend as a good example. Look at how he went about his business against Hibs. He came in and did the job.
“Now, for the next game down the line, is Jack in Robbie’s thoughts because he’s shown he can do the business? Yes. Anybody given an opportunity tonight, if they can go and put in a positive performance, that’ll give them a chance and it will give Robbie positive thoughts [about them] for the rest of the season.”
Ironically, Hamilton is cup-tied this evening having played on loan for Stenhousemuir in the previous round of the Petrofac Training Cup. Lee Hollis is expected to start in goal but Neilson and Crawford have difficult decisions picking their outfield players as some have been frustrated by their lack of game time so far this season.
“Credit to the boys that they’re making it difficult,” he said. “Five or six players with first-team experience did the business in an under-20s match against Dunfermline last week. Their attitude and application was different class and they’re training to a high level.
“Only 11 players can be picked so, unfortunately, you’ll have seven, eight, nine people disappointed. It’s turning that disappointment round. My role and the role of Jack Ross [under-20s coach] is to understand that there is disappointment but not to let it affect their training or mentality going into a match.
“Anybody who has come off the bench has been very positive. We realise there is disappointment but it’s about not letting it affect team morale and team spirit when we get into game situations or on the training field.”