BILLY King has said he feels no need to follow his brother down to the English leagues to advance his career. Signing on for another two years at Tynecastle, the winger is keen to build on a season in which he has cemented his place in the first-team squad as Hearts clinched the Championship
A top-six finish has already been targeted by the club in their return to the Premiership next season and, speaking at the Tesco Bank Football Festival at Tynecastle yesterday, the 20-year-old, who sat out the last few games of the season with an ankle injury, is relishing the chance to deliver on that.
“At a club like Hearts – we are a massive club – we have to aim for top six, definitely. I don’t know how other clubs will react to that but we know that other teams love coming to play at Tynecastle. It’s a brilliant stadium and when it is packed it is unbelievable and I’m looking forward to playing next season.
“I started playing regular first-team games at the end of last season, when we got relegated. I had a good run in the side and we won a few games but that was in the bottom six. I’m not going to lie, this season coming is going to be much more difficult. We aren’t going to dominate games as much or have as much of the ball but I think we have a good chance of finishing in the top six.
King added: “The manager has had a lot of belief in me and that’s good to have. I think I’ve had a decent season in terms of goals and assists but I’ve also got more to offer. Next season, I’ll be looking to develop even more and build on this year. I’m enjoying my football here and enjoying the training. The new training regime is brilliant so I’m delighted I’m staying here.”
It was a different story when the double and triple training sessions were first introduced, with King admitting that some may not have been so thrilled with the prospect of extending deals at that time but having bought into the idea, it is one of the club’s main selling points.
At a club like Hearts – we are a massive club – we have to aim for top six, definitely.Billy King
“Once you have done it for even a couple of months you just get used to it and we have done it for a whole season and I just think that’s the right way to do it. The last thing was being off on a Wednesday and it split up the week and most teams up here do that, but down in the Premier I don’t think they do that and we have to learn from the best. It shows we are going in the right direction. I don’t need to move. This is what the best teams in the world do. We are just learning from them and doing the same as they do and it has paid off this season with the amount of wins and the relentless form we have shown. Even in the latter part of the season we have still looked fit. We have not looked drained or tired.”
With nine goals in his 33 appearances and a bountiful 13 assists, King has benefited from the new training regime and while he says he could get that by moving down south, he would not be guaranteed the regular first-team action.
King’s younger brother Adam left Hearts last season to join Swansea City in the English Premier League and made his first-team debut in the FA Cup in January. But for now, Billy is content in Scotland.
“Adam chose to go to Swansea and I speak to him all the time. He’s really enjoying it there and feels it’s improved him as a player because there’s good coaching. Up here, you’re playing first-team football whereas he’s just playing under-21s. There are pros and cons to both.
“The players [playing down south] at my age want to go out [on loan] and get experience of first-team football. If I was down there, I’d want to go to another club to get first-team football, whereas I’m already getting it here. The training is good and the players we brought in last summer raised the quality of the squad dramatically. When you play and train with players like that, it’s going to improve you.
“It’s been an unbelievable season for the team and me personally. I’m just delighted to sign the two-year deal and I can’t wait to get back fit and get back for pre-season.”