Andrew Irving has seen teenage Hearts team-mates Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald grab the first-team headlines in recent weeks, and the midfielder is hoping his loan spell at Berwick Rangers can act as a springboard to similar success.
The 17-year-old has spent the last six months on a development loan at Shielfield Park. That’s due to end in two weeks time, although both clubs are keen to extend the agreement.
This is all with the long-term aim of progression to the Hearts first team – hopefully alongside his aforementioned colleagues.
“It’s a big incentive,” said Irving of his team-mates’ involvement at Hearts. “The gaffer’s clearly wanting to give young guys a shot and I think it’s brilliant they’re getting a chance. They’ve thoroughly deserved it.
“Personally, I just hope I can keep getting experience, keep improving, keep learning the nastier side of the game and go back to Hearts a better player for it. My loan at Berwick finishes on the 15th and what happens after that I’m not entirely sure yet.”
Irving has played regularly for The Wee Rangers while continuing to train and play with Hearts Under-20s at Oriam, and the former Portobello High School pupil is feeling the benefit.
“It’s good that I still get to go in every day and train full-time with Hearts and then on a Thursday night with Berwick,” he said. “I really enjoy it – the standard of training is really good. [Berwick manager] Robbie Horn is great. You become more streetwise when you come down to League Two. You’re playing men’s senior football which is always good in terms of learning.”
Hearts are clearly keen for this trend to continue. Marcus Godinho has played alongside Irving at Shielfield, Harry Paton is playing well for Stenhousemuir while Callumn Morrison has arguably been the biggest success, emerging as a potential player of the year for Stirling Albion.
“I think Hearts understand how important it us to get experience,” he said. “You play Under-20s, and the next step, if you’re not going to play in the first team at Hearts, is to go on loan and play for three points every week, for win bonuses etc. It’s different types of games every week which is massive, and it’s not just development football. It’s really good to see Callumn doing brilliantly, Harry at Stenhousemuir and Marcus as well.”
The short-term goal is a a win against City on Tuesday – something they haven’t achieved so far this term, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Ainslie Park and drawing 1-1 in Berwick. Irving is surprised to see City so close to the bottom of the League Two table.
“When you see their squad from the previous two games, and even from when we played them in pre-season, I’m surprised,” he explained. “They’ve obviously added since then with guys like El Alagui – they have good players.”
Given City have rattled in two in the previous two fixtures, conceding free-kicks in dangerous positions is to be avoided. “We’ve conceded a lot of goals form set-pieces this season, especially against Edinburgh City,” said Irving. “The boy Garcia Tena stuck one in the top corner, so we’ll need to watch.”