Jack Hamilton is preparing to continue in goal for Hearts against Aberdeen on Thursday.
Team management will decide over the next 48 hours whether to keep faith with the 22-year-old at Pittodrie after his first league start of the season against Ross County.
Hamilton is desperate to play more first-team games and performed well in the 1-1 draw at Tynecastle on Saturday as Neil Alexander’s deputy. He saved a likely goal from a one-versus-one with County striker Alex Schalk in the first half.
Head coach Robbie Neilson and Alexander – who doubles as the Edinburgh club’s goalkeeping coach – are now debating whether Hamilton should retain his place against Aberdeen.
“It’s something we’ll discuss. I’ll speak to Neil and have a look at it myself and then decide what I want to do,” Neilson told the Evening News. “I think it’s important these young boys get some game time. Jack got it on Saturday and he did well.
“He’s a good goalkeeper. He needs to make mistakes and he needs to learn from those mistakes. That’s why we’re considering putting him out on loan for a year [next season]. He needs to go and play 35 or 40 games. I think he did really well against Ross County but getting to a level where he can do it consistently is something he needs to go and do.”
Hamilton is viewed as the future Hearts No.1 but needs more experience of senior football. A season-long loan is intended to ready him to be first choice at Tynecastle by season 2017/18.
“He’s got real potential and he’s got a real chance of being number one here,” continued Neilson. “He still has to go and prove himself. Goalies need to go and play every week. Jack has found it difficult this season because Neil has played just about every game. Jack has had to wait.
“That’s how it is with goalies. If Jack makes it as number one at Hearts, there will be another guy behind him who has to wait. It’s just the nature of the beast and Jack understands that.”
Neilson explained why he took striker Gavin Reilly and midfielder Don Cowie off at half-time on Saturday. “I just wanted to change it up front to be honest. I wanted Juanma to give us a bit of physicality. Don has had a wee problem with his calf recently and felt it flare up a bit. We felt it wasn’t worth taking the risk.”
He added that Reilly must stay patient as he seeks more game time. “Gavin knows the situation here. None of the players are going to play every game. Juanma hasn’t played every game, Osman Sow didn’t when he was here. Dauda hasn’t played every game, and neither has Gav.
“That’s what happens at a big club. We have a squad with good quality. We don’t have a squad with one striker who plays every week.”