Hearts’ Aidan White to get more action – but Aaron Hickey is in pole position
Aidan White will step up his bid for full fitness by getting another outing in Hearts’ closed-doors friendly against Cambridge United tomorrow.
However, manager Craig Levein confirmed that teenager Aaron Hickey is in pole position to start at left-back in the opening Premiership game of the season against Aberdeen.
White hasn’t played a competitive match for two and a half years due to serious injury but has been busy working on rebuilding his fitness since signing for Hearts in March as he bids to revive his career.
The 27-year-old former Leeds United and Barnsley left-back made his first appearance for the club when he was given 45 minutes of the friendly against Glenavon a fortnight ago. Having played no part in Hearts’ two Betfred Cup games so far, White is set to take another step forward in his rehabilitation when he faces English League Two side Cambridge at Tynecastle this weekend.
“Aidy will play some part in the game,” Levein told the Evening News. “Aidy had a little setback where he felt his groin a bit so we just came off it a bit but now he’s back in full training again. Things like this will happen, it’s going to take him a while to get back to top-level fitness but it’s been encouraging so far. He’s fit and raring to go for the weekend. He’ll probably play 45 minutes or an hour – we’ll see how it goes.”
Asked how he saw the race for the left-back slot for the league opener at Aberdeen in just over a fortnight, Levein suggested that 17-year-old Hickey, who has made a big impression since making his first-team breakthrough in May, was on course to start. “I’d say Aaron is ahead of Aidan at the moment just through the fact he’s done all of pre-season and is fitter,” said the manager. “With Aidan, obviously there’s still that small question mark about just how ready he is. I left Aaron out at Cowdenbeath on Tuesday because he cramped up a bit in his calf towards the end of the Dundee United game, so I thought I’d keep him for the next game (against Stenhousemuir on Wednesday).”
Levein will use tomorrow’s game against Cambridge predominantly to get game time for those who haven’t featured regularly in the previous friendlies and Betfred Cup games. “Aidan Keena, Conor Smith and Harry Cochrane are likely to be involved,” he said. “I’ve also got to get Alex Petkov and Lewis Moore games so I’ve got quite a lot of players that need to play. This game will bring them all on a little notch.”