THE Hearts management team believe Jamie Hamill’s first-team return will be akin to a new signing after the defender emerged unscathed from a second under-20 match in four days. Hamill played 79 minutes and scored a penalty as Hearts Under-20s beat their Ross County counterparts 2-0 at Riccarton yesterday.
Manager Gary Locke looked on as Hamill’s rehabilitation from cruciate ligament damage continued in solid fashion. Having completed his first game in 12 months as an overage player for the under-20s against Inverness last Thursday, the 26-year-old produced an energetic performance at right-back against Ross County. He scored Hearts’ second goal from the penalty spot on 65 minutes after Dale Carrick had broken the deadlock in the first half.
Hearts Under-20s coach Darren Murray, who also assists Locke with the first team, explained why the coaching staff are relishing the prospect of Hamill’s return after a full year out. “It is like a new signing and I think the gaffer sees it like that as well,” Murray told the Evening News. “It’s important Jamie comes back in. It might take him a few games to get back up to speed but I’m sure he’ll get there.
“He played on Thursday and then yesterday. There’s no reaction with the knee and he’s been fine. He’ll be back into training over the next few days. The under-20s games are good for him, better than the youth games of last year because some older players are allowed to play.”
Murray added that Hamill’s morale has soared in recent weeks as he edges nearer an SPL outing, which may possibly come this weekend at Aberdeen. “His spirit lifted just being allowed to train again, let alone play,” continued Murray. “Getting back in with the boys helped him. He’s quite a bubbly character and all the lads love him, so it’s good to get him back involved with the squad. We have a young group and we need characters like Jamie.
“Experience is everything in football and the only way to gain experience is by playing. That’s what we’ve tried to do with some of the young boys in the first team this season. If we can get players like Jamie Hamill – a good experienced professional – giving good advice out on the pitch, it can only help the younger ones. As a coach, you can only guide players. Once they go onto that pitch they must then deliver.
“If they have people around them to help them deliver, all the better.
And Murray added: “Yesterday was Jamie’s second game at under-20 level as he’s just back from injury and it will help him getting more than 75 minutes. He scored the penalty, which wasn’t his to take, but I’ll give him it. I thought Callum Tapping and Brad McKay were both excellent for us as well. Brad in particular is doing exceptionally well just now, as is Billy King. It was a good performance and we probably should have scored more goals.”
Meanwhile, Hearts fans’ groups will meet tonight at Tynecastle hoping to identify a preferred model for the takeover of the Edinburgh club. Foundation of Hearts, the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, the Hearts Supporters’ Trust, the Heart of Midlothian Shareholders’ Association, the Hearts Youth Development Committee and the Save Our Hearts campaign group will all be represented at the meeting.
Supporters are hoping to agree on one model for fan ownership and present their findings to the board in Lithuania as they attempt to negotiate the sale of the club. There is no prospect at this stage of any offer being made to Hearts’ parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group, for the majority shareholding they hold.