THERE’S no doubt this has been a season to forget for Hearts supporters. The Tynecastle side will finish their SPL campaign against Aberdeen this afternoon in the bottom half of the table, but Jason Holt reckons that the trials and tribulations which Hearts’ young stars have been through, combined with the experience gained from playing regular football, could well be the making of them.
Holt and a number of other youngsters have been thrown in at the deep end as Hearts bid to reduce their wage bill to a manageable level.
With change, of course, has come inconsistency, but Holt is hoping to see a much-improved side for the next campaign.
He said: “It’s not only myself, there have been a number of younger boys that have come in and done really well. They all have invaluable experience now and we will look to use that to our advantage.
“From the club’s point of view, I think you have to consider the season as disappointing. The league position and the way the League Cup ended is disappointing, but I have to be happy about breaking into the team and getting a decent amount of games under my belt. That has definitely been good for me.
“In pre-season, I knew this would be my season to jump into things and make my mark. Thankfully I have done not too bad in that sense, made a good amount of appearances and I want to kick on next season.
“It has been a wee bit difficult, but as a player you need to take any chance you are given and you have to be grateful, regardless of the circumstances.
“When I was thrown in I was thankful and I did okay, managing to get a wee run in the side.”
Holt has been helped through his debut season by senior pros ilike Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas and Ryan Stevenson.
It looks like Zaliukas will be heading for pastures new in the summer, while there is doubt over where former Dundee United and Rangers defender Webster’s future lies.
But Holt, who has made over 20 appearances this season, is keen to see as much experience retained in the side as possible.
The 20-year-old midfielder continued: “With any team, you need the mix right between youth and experience. This season the likes of Ryan Stevenson, Darren Barr and Andy Webster have helped us – Jamie Hamill as well. All the older heads are always looking to give you advice in every situation and, as a young player, you need to take that on board. It would have been a lot more difficult without those players.
“There is a lot of pressure coming into play first team football and, at this club, you need results. There is a physical jump too, from 20s to the senior team, and you need to get yourself stronger and deal with that. As long as you are willing to put yourself about and get stuck in then you will do OK.”
Although the Hearts side is now made up with a majority of young players, Holt believes that there are still more quality youths waiting in the wings for their chance.
“There are so many talented players at under-20 level at this club and I know they will be pushing hard next season,” he added. “It is a wee bit strange to think I could be an experienced head next season, but if I can help any other boys, then I will pass on any advice I have.”