At just 19 years of age, Ross Caldwell could give several of Hearts’ young bucks a run for their money.
The Bellshill-born Hibernian striker has scored several goals against their city rivals for the youth side and is eager to take his first-team chance tomorrow if selected to play at Tynecastle.
With Leigh Griffiths almost certain to start, Caldwell might have to be content with an appearance from the substitutes’ bench, but being thrown into the cauldron at Tynecastle would not faze him, he insists. Apart from the noise of the capacity crowd, he would feel in comfortable surroundings, with so many Hearts players having, like him, graduated from the youth set-up. “It makes it easier, because they are players you have already played against,” he said at Easter Road yesterday. “It’s not daunting, it’s just another game.”
Caldwell calculated that he has scored seven times in seven starts against Hearts at youth level. “But I’d happily swap them for one on Sunday if it was the winner,” he said. “The highlight was scoring in the Youth Cup against them two years ago,” he added. “We were 1-0 down with a minute to go and I scored to take it to extra-time. And then early in extra-time I got another which proved to be the winner.
“They are good games to play, they can get a bit tasty. I don’t see much difference between them and the first-team games, apart from the crowd and atmosphere. We normally get a couple of hundred at games but because they are not in stadiums, it can feel really packed.”
Caldwell, who scored for the first-team against St Mirren a fortnight ago played for the under-20s in their victory against Celtic on Tuesday, but missed the clash with the same opponents on Thursday, as he rested ahead of tomorrow. It might point to him being given a run-out at Tynecastle. He has sat on the bench there already for the first-team and has been fortified by the experience.
“Going down the touchline you get abuse, but it helps you become a stronger player,” he said. “The fans don’t really know me but they don’t really care, they just hurl stuff at me.”