Hearts loan update - Harry Stone at Partick Thistle, Scott McGill impresses with Airdrie, Loic Damour playing regularly in France

The plan for Hearts this season was for Robbie Neilson to run with a smaller but more competitive squad.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 6:00 am
Harry Stone has been in and out the team at Partick Thistle. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

A consequence of that decision has been the loaning out of fringe players who weren’t involved in first-team plans as well as the club’s talented youngsters.

The Tynecastle Park side currently have 13 players out on loan.

Jordan Roberts is the only one playing in the cinch Premiership. He re-joined Motherwell on deadline day after a fruitful loan spell last season, a move which manager Graham Alexander called a "no-brainer”.

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Loic Damour is on loan in France. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

During his stint he scored his first goal in Scottish football with a strike against Hibs.

Sunday’s substitute appearance in the Steelmen's 1-1 draw with Rangers was his first outing since appearing for Hearts in their Premier Sports Cup win over Peterhead.

Roberts will likely be a key player for Motherwell this season and will vie with Kaiyne Woolery for a starting spot.

Stone, Hamilton and Popescu

Scott McGill has made a positive impression at Airdrieonians. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

There has been plenty of intrigue in Harry Stone's development amongst the Hearts support. The teenage goalkeeper is seen as the heir to Craig Gordon’s No.1 spot.

He is on a season-long loan with Partick Thistle following their promotion to the second tier.

The 19-year-old has been in and out of the team. After two outings in the Premier Sports Cup he had to settle for a place on the bench for the Championship opener.

Stone started the next two, keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 win at Dunfermline Athletic while producing two excellent stops to deny former Hearts man Nikolay Todorov.

However, the second game, a loss to Arbroath, wasn't so positive. Stone allowed a free-kick to sneak past him in the first-half before a loose kick out in the second went straight to Smokies midfielder Nicky Low who passed the ball by him and into the net.

Stone, who has been on international duty with Scotland’s Under-21s, has had a watching brief with Jamie Sneddon Thistle’s current number one.

Also on loan in the Championship are defensive duo Mihai Popescu and Chris Hamilton, at Hamilton Accies and Arbroath respectively.

The Romanian centre-back made his debut off the bench against the Angus side in a 4-0 loss. The score was 2-0 at the time of his arrival with Joel Nouble breaking the offside trap to make it 3-0.

It didn’t get much better on Saturday, starting alongside Brian Easton in a 2-0 loss to Ayr United. Accies boss Stuart Taylor may lean on Popescu's physicality and experience with the team slight and full of youth.

Due to the form of other players, Hamilton has not played as regularly as he would have liked at Arbroath. However, when he has featured he provided plenty of solidity in defence.

His tenacity was on show in the Premier Sports Cup as the second tier side took St Johnstone to penalties. Playing at right-back he produced a big block in the first-half to deny Reece Devine.

Hamilton has made such an impression that it would be no surprise to see Arbroath look to bring him in permanently if he leaves Hearts at the end of his contract.

McGill a Diamond loan

Dropping into League One, there are four youngsters gaining first-team experience.

Scott McGill made a bombastic impact at Airdrieonians, scoring a belting strike in a Premier Sports Cup victory over rivals Motherwell.

He had to bide his time for a starting spot but has played every minute of the last four league games and scored in the weekend’s win over East Fife, his cross curling over goalkeeper Scott Gallacher.

McGill has proven himself to be a very useful addition for the Diamonds and shown his versatility, playing different roles in midfield and then filling in at left-back on Saturday, while he has also featured on the left of midfield.

One of those games on the left was a 2-1 win over Alloa Athletic where McGill came up against Euan Henderson.

The forward was on the periphery of the match, showing flashes of his pace and threat in the final third.

He has started all three games for the Wasps he has been available for and was a key figure on his debut as he helped Barry Ferguson's men record a 2-0 win over Falkirk.

The 21-year-old’s speed unnerved the Bairns' backline, twice threatening with his pace in behind during the early exchanges before opening the scoring on the half-hour mark, running on to a ball over the top. Whether it was through the middle or down the left he was a constant threat.

Connor Smith and Ryan Schivaone are on loan at Queen’s Park and Dumbarton respectively. Both have yet to start a match, so far limited to substitute appearances.

Damour in France

Meanwhile, in League Two, Leo Watson, who started Hearts B’s 1-0 win over Edinburgh City last month has yet to feature for Stirling Albion with the Binos sitting third in the table.

On Monday it was announced Aidan Denholm had joined Lowland League side Berwick Rangers where he could face Hearts duo Arron Darge and Sean Docherty, both on temporary deals with Gala Fairydean Rovers.

Finally, Loic Damour is getting the regular first-team football he has been looking for, on loan at the French side Le Mans.

The midfielder has started the last six games for the third tier outfit.

Damour was on the bench for games earlier in the season after impressing in pre-season for Robbie Neilson.

It was expected he would depart permanently but even after the loan spell ends he will have one year remaining on his deal.

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