New FIFA rule allows Harry Stone to play for Hearts this season

A FIFA rule change will allow teenage Hearts goalkeeper Harry Stone to make his first-team debut this season if called upon.

By Barry Anderson
Thursday, 19th November 2020, 7:00 am
Teenage Hearts goalkeeper Harry Stone is currently on loan at Spartans. Pic: David Mollison.
Teenage Hearts goalkeeper Harry Stone is currently on loan at Spartans. Pic: David Mollison.

Football’s governing body temporarily altered registration law to let players play for three clubs this term following the coronavirus impact. Previously, the worldwide rule stated no-one could appear for more than two clubs in the same campaign.

Stone has enjoyed three outings so far on loan at Lowland League club Spartans having played for Stirling Albion as an emergency loanee last month.

The highly-rated 18-year-old is due to return to Riccarton in January and the rule change means he is still eligible for a senior breakthrough with Hearts before the summer.

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Craig Gordon is the club’s No.1 goalkeeper, deputy Ross Stewart is on loan from Livingston until January, with Zdenek Zlamal third-choice. Colin Doyle’s loan at Kilmarnock is due to end in January.

Hearts sent Stone to Spartans to enhance his first-team experience. “We were going to keep him with us until January but this was a good opportunity for us to get him playing,” manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News.

“I know Dougie Samuel down at Spartans really well. Their goalkeeper got a muscle injury and is going to be out for a while, so Harry could go down there and play week in and week out.

“It's a great opportunity for the kid and it means we are helping Spartans out a bit as well. He will come back to us in January. He has done really well when he's trained with us.

“He got an operation at the start of the season and got over that. There is a plan for Harry. I think it will be another year or two before he is challenging for a regular place in the first team.

“The plan is to gradually build him up and give him games, which is why he's gone to Spartans.

“He went to Stirling on an emergency loan for one game. Stirling were looking for a goalie, he was guaranteed to start and we thought it would be good experience for him.

“He kept a clean sheet that day against Queen's Park, who are are favourites for that league. Hopefully he gets another few games at Spartans between now and January. That will keep him developing.”

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