New Hearts winger Jordan Roberts ‘physically and mentally’ ready to make the most of second chance in Scotland

Englishman feels better placed to impress at Tynecastle after difficult spell at Inverness

New Hearts' signing Jordan Roberts featured in the 5-0 friendly win over East Fife on Friday. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
New Hearts' signing Jordan Roberts featured in the 5-0 friendly win over East Fife on Friday. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

After a hellish year in the Highlands, Jordan Roberts has returned to Scotland for a second stint in better condition, both mentally and physically, and he is fuelled by a desire to prove his worth.

The winger’s last spell north of the Border did not quite go to plan as he registered just nine appearances and two goals for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in an injury hit 2015-16 season.

But the Hearts summer signing, who is eyeing up titles and silverware, has sights firmly set on better times in the capital.

“It’s different – physically and mentally. I’m a few years older now, I know the league more and I’m familiar with the players, and I’m coming up here to prove a point and do what I wanted to do at Inverness. That’s key for me.

“Back then, although I had stayed away from home at previous clubs, I’d never been 12 hours away! So that was a lot different to Edinburgh. It’s a lovely city here, with a lot around and a lot of the boys live local.

“Do I have unfinished business? Of course. I look to go out there in every game and give 100 per cent, bring goals and assists. That’s what my position is about. Hopefully I can put good numbers on the board and do well for the team.”

The Gorgie side’s preparations are gathering pace as they build on the work already done on the training pitch with some friendly action, aimed at getting them up to speed ahead of the Championship campaign kicking off next month and dealing with the outstanding business of a Scottish Cup semi-final against their capital derby rivals.

“You don’t just want to go somewhere for the sake of playing games – you want to have end goals, whether that is being in team of the year, winning league, winning cups. That’s what it’s about. You want to be able to look back on your career and say: ‘I won this trophy, I was promoted from this league’. That was a key factor.”

But he is clear on what he believes is the most enticing aspect of Scottish football.

“The passion. Definitely.” But he says that without fans in the stand it is up to the players to generate that themselves.

With closed door games already under their belt, there are encouraging signs that they will be able to cope with the new normal, though.

The Englishman is finding his groove, and while he believes there is plenty of work and improvement to come from the team, he is excited by manager Robbie Neilson’s game plan to use the wide areas to full effect.

“It’s a case of adapting to what it’ll be like with no fans. We need to find that lift from ourselves and the staff.”

Although that derby semi final will take care of itself, he says: “I still think there will be that edge to that because we all know the magnitude of the game. It comes down to our own mentality and how much we want it. That will play a key part in things and hopefully it will be a maroon day. We’ll do everything to get the job done on the day.”