HEARTS teenager Callum Tapping today credited Paul Hartley with helping him become a man whilst on loan at Alloa.
The Tynecastle legend helped Tapping prove to John McGlynn and other Riccarton coaches that he can handle senior football, and the midfielder is now on the verge of a Scotland Under-21 debut tomorrow.
Four appearances under Hartley at Alloa late last year convinced Tapping he could cope at first-team level. He has since broken into the Hearts first team and the Scotland Under-21 squad. With Jason Holt, David Smith, Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Toshney and Stefan Scougall out of tomorrow’s friendly with Greece in Korinthos, Tapping is in contention to start the match.
The player said Hartley, a former midfielder with Hearts and Scotland, helped him immensely. “Paul Hartley was good for me because he was a centre mid and it was great learning from him,” said Tapping. “He was talking me through games and I was playing in a team at Alloa that was fighting for promotion as well. There were plenty good players and it wasn’t a case of walking into the team. I had to prove myself.
“Going there was for me to prove to the gaffer and the other coaching staff at Hearts that I was able to handle myself in men’s football. Obviously it was a step up from under-20s. I’m enjoying playing the holding role for Hearts but I feel I can go forward if need be.”
Billy Stark explained that Tapping deserves his chance in Scotland’s Under-21 side. “Callum isn’t new to me as I had him with the Under-19s, but because of our strong midfield he’s had to wait to get a shot. He’s done well in the past few games.”