Hearts’ Harry Cochrane backed to handle heat of Hibs clash

Harry Cochrane gave Hearts a lift after coming at half-time against St Johnstone
Harry Cochrane gave Hearts a lift after coming at half-time against St Johnstone
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John Souttar insists he would have no concerns about seeing 16-year-old midfielder Harry Cochrane pitched in from the start for Hearts in tomorrow’s Edinburgh derby.

The teenager has featured heavily in his side’s last three matches and, with Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum injured and the ineffective Prince Buaben having been substituted at half time in Saturday’s win over St Johnstone, he is now in contention to face Hibs.

Souttar, who experienced first-team involvement aged 16 at Dundee United, believes his young colleague is equipped to cope with the intensity of Easter Road, if selected.

“I don’t see any reason why Harry couldn’t handle going in against Hibs,” said the centre-back. “If he was to play, he’d handle it no bother. Sometimes it’s better when you’re younger and you don’t know the other side of the game. I remember being like that myself at his age, where you’re playing with no pressure and you’re just enjoying your football because you’re oblivious to the other side of the game.

“When you first come in, that’s the easy part because you’re new and everyone’s looking at the positive sides. It’s after a few games when it gets difficult, but I’m sure he has the mentality to deal with that.”

Souttar has been impressed with Cochrane, who came on at half-time against St Johnstone and enlivened Hearts’ play. “He’s an unbelievable player in training,” he said. “He’s 16 years old and he’s come in and nothing fazes him. He can go wherever he wants to go – he’s that good. He’s not even in the first-team dressing-room yet – he’s still upstairs with the young boy – but he’s not scared to put his foot in. He can do the dirty side.”

Ross Callachan looks the only central midfielder guaranteed to start. Hearts will have Connor Randall back from suspension, although it remains to be seen if he will be utilised at right-back or in the engine room. Polish pair Krystian Nowak and Rafal Grzelak can also operate in midfield if required.