How Hearts benefit from League One and League Two restart in Scotland
Four Hearts players will finally restart their seasons later this month when League One and League Two clubs resume matches.
The two lowest divisions of the Scottish Professional Football League are due to begin playing again on March 20 after an extended shutdown.
Hearts teenagers Harry Cochrane, Connor Smith, Cammy Logan and Chris Hamilton all stand to benefit as they remain on loan at clubs in those leagues.
Midfielder Cochrane is with Montrose, while fellow midfielder Smith and full-back Logan are also in League One at Cove Rangers. The versatile Hamilton is with Stirling Albion in League Two.
They could potentially play as many as 16 games each between now and the end of the season depending on whether their respective clubs reach the play-offs.
“It's brilliant for the clubs in those leagues to get football back again,” said the Hearts manager Robbie Neilson. “I spoke to a few managers in those leagues and they are so happy to be back playing in the near future.
“For our young boys, it's been a tough season for them all. Cochrane, Logan, Smith, Hamilton – all these kids that just haven't had the game time they would have liked this year. It's really hindered their development.
“We wanted to see them get 25 or 30 games but it hasn't happened. Hopefully they can at least get ten or 12 games or possibly more towards the end of the season and it can help them coming into next year.
“They are all excited about it as you can imagine. They were in last Thursday night training and again on Saturday they were training, so it's just good for them all to get back into it again.”
League One and League Two teams intend to complete 18 matches and then split their leagues for a further round to reach 22 games. Play-offs would then take place but the SPFL have questioned the viability of the plan.
“The board remains concerned regarding the realistic ability of League One and League Two clubs to complete a 22-match season, including the introduction of a new 'split' in each division,” the SPFL said.