CALLUM Tapping believes the youthful Hearts first team players left at the club following administration are ready to grow up fast this season.
The 15-point deduction imposed as a result of their insolvency event has understandably prompted bookmakers to instal Hearts as odds-on favourites to be relegated from the top flight.
But as they prepare to continue their pre-season preparations with today’s fundraising clash against fellow administration-hit outfit Dunfermline at East End Park, Tapping says he and his team-mates are prepared for the fresh level of responsibility about to be placed on them.
“All the young boys need to take it on our shoulders that we can’t be classed as wee young boys around the changing room anymore,” said the 20-year-old midfielder.
“We have to step up and be counted. Last season, we got drafted into the first team slowly and now we’ve all come in, we have to step up because we’re not really young players in the squad anymore.
“All of the boys are looking forward to the challenge and we are definitely motivated by starting off on minus 15 points. We can’t wait for the season to start, everyone is buzzing and ready to do what we can to make up the points difference. All we can do is give our best performances every week and try to push on.
“I think last season was good for us, with the younger boys getting the games they did in the first team, because that puts us in good stead for this season. We’ve got more young boys coming through this season and everyone is buzzing for the start.
“We still have a few experienced boys in Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson. There is a good chemistry between them and us younger lads. Now we are just one big squad. There is a great spirit among the young boys, because we came through the ranks together, and we can use that as a positive.”
Tapping, who joined Hearts two years ago from the Tottenham Hotspur youth set-up, made 11 first team appearances last season and earned a debut appearance for the Scotland under-21 side in a friendly against Greece in February.
His development was aided by a loan spell earlier in the campaign at Alloa Athletic, where he forged a bond with the Wasps manager, former Hearts midfielder Paul Hartley.
“That was a good experience for me,” reflects Tapping. “Paul played in the same holding midfield position as I do, so it was great to learn from him and take his coaching points on board.
“I spoke to him again at a Hearts supporters rally recently. I congratulated him on getting promotion with Alloa and he just told me to go out and do what I have to do for Hearts this season and to do it well. It’s great to learn from someone like him.
“It’s the same with Billy Brown. He has been brilliant with us since he came to help the gaffer out. That’s another real positive for the boys.
“We’re just looking forward to getting on to the park again against Dunfermline. It’s brilliant that the gate is being split 50-50 to help both clubs. Our fans have been amazing and hopefully it’s a big turn out again at East End Park.”