Ian Cathro revealed he’s long been an admirer of Connor Randall after Hearts announced the signing of the Liverpool youngster on a season-long loan deal.
As revealed in Thursday’s Evening News, the club were been keen to acquire the 21-year-old, and he has been granted international clearance to be included in their squad for the must-win Betfred Cup Group B fixture at home to Dunfermline today.
The England Under-17 internationalist has made three first-team appearances for the five-time European Cup winners, featuring at both right and left-back for Jurgen Klopp’s team. He also gained experience of top-team football during a loan spell with Shrewsbury Town.
“He’s a young, hungry, talented player with really good qualities that I like,” said Cathro of the latest addition. “He’s someone that I’ve been aware of for a period of time, even before coming here. We’re pleased we’ve been able to get things ready and I’m glad Connor’s joined us.”
The Hearts boss has made no secret of his desire to strengthen in the middle of the park. While Randall has recently operated at full-back, Cathro confirmed he sees him in a midfield role.
“He has experience playing in different positions,” he explained. “He’s grown up as a midfield player. More recently, he’s had game time for Liverpool, primarily going by what the first team are looking for, as a right-back and also at left-back. The qualities that are most important in his game, for me, are that of a midfielder.
“Another plus with Connor is the intensity in his game and his focus that allows that to be a versatile thing in that no matter where you are on the pitch, they serve you well. It does give us some options in different places, but for me he’s a midfielder.”
Cathro also confirmed that Randall’s arrival isn’t likely to signal the end of Hearts’ transfer dealings. “I would expect us to still maybe do one or two,” he revealed. “It’s an open thing that we’ve got to see how things develop and manage what we can.”
Meanwhile, the head coach insisted that today’s decisive game against Dunfermline was always going to be a big one despite previous results.
Tuesday’s loss at Peterhead leaves Hearts needing to beat The Pars to ensure qualification for the knock-out rounds.
“It would’ve been big irrespective [of Tuesday] because you want to progress in the competition,” said Cathro. “We wanted to be top of the group so irrespective of anything that had gone before it, this game was going to be a very big game.
“It’s also the last home game that we play for a while, it’s a TV game which is another highlight on it and for the new players joining us, they feel a game of importance. We want to leave our last game at Tynecastle looking forward to going back to it, so it’s a game of that level of importance.”