HEARTS midfielder Scott Robinson has explained why he declined a place on the bench last season during John McGlynn’s tenure in the dugout.
The 21-year-old, who has started Hearts’ opening three Premiership matches, insists the incident came about due to a misunderstanding.
Unhappy at kicking his heels on the sidelines, Robinson sought answers from McGlynn ahead of a league visit of Aberdeen on 8 December before telling the former Raith Rovers manager that his “head wasn’t really in it to play”.
Robinson, who became the youngest player in Scottish Premier League history when he made his debut as a substitute against Inverness in 2008 at the age of 16 years and one month, then found himself at the centre of a row that threatened to end his Hearts career. Banned from the club’s training round at Riccarton, he managed to defuse the situation after issuing an apology to McGlynn, but was still rankled byquestions over his commitment.
The Dons are again the visitors today and, speaking about the incident for the first time, Robinson said: “I think it maybe came out the wrong way.
“I asked where I stood in terms of playing time and if I was going to get a game. I went up to John and said I thought I was doing well enough in training but he was sticking with the same team even if we weren’t getting results. It was more ‘what do I need to do, is there anything I can do differently to get into the team?’
“He obviously never understood on the day of the game when what I actually said to him was that my head wasn’t really in it to play.
“It came out that I didn’t want to play for this club but that wasn’t true at all. This is the club I chose when I was 14. I’ve always wanted to be here, I’ve always wanted to play for Hearts. But after that we sat down and spoke and everything was fine.”
With 69 first-team appearances under his belt spanning six seasons, Robinson is one of the more recognised members of Gary Locke’s young squad as they set about trying to reduce their crippling 15-point penalty, which has been whittled down to 11.
Injury and form permitting, he is unlikely to find himself in a situation like last season. Robinson, who picked up a knee injury in March, said: “Now I’m back in the team and I’m the third most experienced player at the club. I’ve got to step up to the plate and show my experience.”
Hearts came from behind to collect a point at Partick Thistle last week and Robinson insists Greece’s stunning Euro 2004 triumph is the unlikely inspiration behind their bid to beat the drop.
He added: “It’s all about team spirit this year and being there for each other. If you look back at Greece in 2004 at the European Championships, they had a team spirit and they got the results.
“They didn’t have the quality of Portugal, they didn’t have a Cristiano Ronaldo or a Deco, but what they did have was team spirit and that got them over the line to a famous victory.
“We have a real team spirit that was lacking last year and I don’t think last season we would have been able to fight back and get a point at Partick like we did last Friday.”
The buoyancy created at Aberdeen by opening victories over Kilmarnock and Motherwell were tempered by last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Celtic. While it seems McInnes’s fledgling project may not be ready to mount a serious challenge to Neil Lennon’s Scottish champions yet, striker Niall McGinn is confident they will be more than a match for Hearts today.
“They have a lot of young players and a lot of young players coming in, so they are obviously going to be desperate to impress the manager and will be full of energy,” said McGinn of Hearts.
“Tynecastle is definitely a hard place to go. But we have done well over the first few games and we can take confidence from that. Hopefully we will hit the ground running on Saturday and come out with the right result.
“There is a good buzz about the place with the way we have started the season. Even fan-base wise, [things are looking good]. The fans have been unbelievable, both away and at home.
“The football is good at the moment. We are all enjoying it and we have all got smiles on our faces. The manager is being so positive and that is being reflected in the players. That will bring us confidence for our game on Saturday.
“From being here over the course of last season [I have realised] that we are expected to win most games. No more so than on Saturday. But it will definitely be a right tough game. But we know the fans will travel in their numbers and that will definitely be reflected with performance on the pitch.
“Even at the Motherwell game, the fans sang from the first minute to the last and it definitely does have an impact on the players on the pitch and gives us great confidence. Hopefully it will be the same against Hearts.”