Why Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey needs rested

Young defender has been tested to the limit this season

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:05 am
Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey has played 19 games already this season
Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey has played 19 games already this season

The time has come for Hearts to allow 17-year-old Aaron Hickey a much-needed break from first-team duty. That is no reflection on the defender’s ability, application or future prospects, simply a reality which affects every teenager playing at the top level.

Hearts have played 21 competitive games to date this season and Hickey has featured in 19 of those. Recent fixtures have indicated he needs some respite; time to catch his breath and recharge the battery, as the sayings go.

He suffered with a tight groin at Kilmarnock nine days ago and was withdrawn at half-time with his team already 3-0 down. That scoreline remained until the end.

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At Ibrox on Sunday, Hickey was moving uneasily during the final stages and again seemed to be carrying a knock. A 5-0 thumping from Rangers will not have made him feel any better.

His young and developmental body has been tested to the absolute limit in a Hearts team under an inordinate amount of strain without a manager and sitting at the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership. Perhaps he would have been rested before now had the club been in a more comfortable league position. Regardless, he now needs a break.

Hickey signed his first professional contract in June 2018. His rise has come at breakneck speed and it would be understandable were he feeling overwhelmed in some way. As a level-headed sort, he is taking it in his stride but for his own sake will need taken out of the team for a breather.

He was thrust into Hearts’ first team aged 16 less than a year after penning that contract. He made three senior appearances towards the end of last season, most notably in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic at Hampden Park. He was a standout performer that afternoon and kept the Scotland’s Player of the Year, James Forrest, quiet on the big stage.

A winning goal in the Edinburgh derby and a string of sterling displays in recent months have seen the likes of Manchester City and Southampton credited with an interest in the prodigious youngster.

For now, it would be best if such talk was pushed aside to let Hickey step back and ready himself for the remainder of the season.