MICHAEL NGOO will make his Hearts debut in tomorrow’s Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final after Liverpool agreed to a six-month loan deal for their England Under-20 striker. Ngoo was due at Tynecastle to finalise paperwork today and to train with his new team-mates for the first time. Barring any unexpected hitches, he will face Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Easter Road tomorrow.
The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers gave permission for Ngoo to join Hearts after loaning defender Danny Wilson to Tynecastle last week. The Edinburgh club remain bound by signing restrictions and must recruit under-21 players to replace those they release on a one-in-one-out basis. Ryan McGowan and Peter Enckelman left earlier this month, and their squad places have now been filled by Wilson and Ngoo respectively.
The Hearts manager John McGlynn has wanted to reinforce his attack ever since his appointment last summer. Landing 20-year-old Ngoo, who stands 6ft 4in tall, will be a welcome boost ahead of the semi-final with Inverness. However, McGlynn stressed that size was not the main priority in his recruitment drive.
“It’s not necessarily a big physical striker we’re looking for,” he told the Evening News. “We’re after somebody just like (Inverness striker) Billy McKay, actually. Somebody who is not necessarily over 6ft but who is, quick, strong, powerful and scoring goals. The priority is not to be 6ft 4in, the priority is to get someone with enough skill, enough awareness, who can hold the ball up and put it in the back of the net.”
After capturing Wilson, an international centre-back with Champions League experience, luring Ngoo north represents another fine piece of business by Hearts. Born in London, the forward is known for his pace and strength and boasts an impressive scoring record at youth level. He joined Liverpool in September 2009 from Southend United for a fee
potentially worth up to £250,000. He scored 15 goals in 21 games for the Anfield club’s under-18s in 2010/11 and was quickly promoted to the reserve squad. He was also part of the England’s squad for the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia in 2011.
The January transfer window is due to close in six days’ time and McGlynn hinted that there could yet be more departures at Hearts. Asked if more players are likely to leave, he replied: “Watch this space.”