Ian Cathro today pinpointed the Betfred League Cup as a key competition for Hearts as it gets underway. Group matches begin tonight and continue over the weekend, although the Tynecastle club don’t start their campaign until Tuesday night.
They are away to Elgin first in a group section which also contains East Fife, Peterhead and Dunfermline. Cathro is determined to treat the League Cup as a priority alongside the Ladbrokes Premiership and William Hill Scottish Cup.
The early start to the season doesn’t faze the head coach, who is eager to see his new-look team in competitive action after signing six new players so far.
“As far as we are concerned, our competitive season starts on July 18,” he said. “I don’t see any differentiation between the start of the League Cup and the start of the league. The competitive games begin on July 18.
“It’s something which has to play an important part for us. These tournaments are opportunities to win trophies and that’s what everyone wants. Naturally, we’re very motivated towards that.
“If it’s a positive thing for the league by starting early, getting more eyes on the competition through TV coverage, or if it generates more revenue, then we can’t be dismissive about that.
“I’m unsure how much value it brings but if it has a positive impact on the commercial side then I’m certainly not going to pour water on that.
“Right now, the League Cup is the most important thing for us.
“There are three competitions in Scotland and we can’t start to label these games as pre-season ones or devalue them in any way. It would be insane to do that. So the competition starts on Tuesday for us.”
Meanwhile, Hearts’ 18-year-old winger Callumn Morrison has joined Stirling Albion on loan until January to gain first-team experience. Teenage midfielder Harry Paton has been sent to Stenhousemuir in a similar loan agreement.