Hearts youngster learning fast thanks to Celtic experience and Aaron Hughes’ advice

Andy Irving’s confidence has grown after playing for Hearts in front of almost 60,000 people at Celtic Park last month.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 6:30 am
Celtic Park was hostile but young Hearts midfielder Andy Irving coped against the likes of Olivier Ntcham

The 19-year-old midfielder felt he handled the occasion well as he tries to challenge for a regular first-team place at Tynecastle.

“It was massive for me to get that game in,” he said. “It kind of came out of the blue. I had a reserve friendly on the Tuesday and I wasn’t really expecting to be involved. Once I was told I was playing I couldn’t have been happier. I couldn’t wait to play.

“It was tough walking in. I’ve never played in front of 60,000 people, it was pretty crazy with the noise they make. When the ball is out for a throw-in or there’s a break in the game, you actually look around and hear them all. It is quite intimidating but you just get on with it. Once you get your first touch, you kind of just forget about it because you’re so focused on the game.

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“I feel I handled it pretty well even though it was intimidating. Aaron [Hickey] and Connor [Smith] coped well, too. It will give us confidence for the future and it can only bring us on.”

Irving explained that he learns from other midfielders at Hearts but also credited the retiring Aaron Hughes for his influence.

“I look at how other midfielders get on the ball and what positions to take up. I’ve learned some of that from them in training.

“Aaron Hughes has always helped me as well. If he is behind me in defence, he is always speaking and telling me where to be. That’s been great. He’s had an amazing career and it’s brilliant to hear his advice.”