GARY LOCKE believes that Callum Paterson’s versatility could make him invaluable to threadbare Hearts this season.
Paterson burst into the Hearts first team at the beginning of last season, initially playing in defence, and then being moved up front when their striking options were limited.
The youngster proved his worth in both positions and Locke looks set to make use of his ability to play in more than one area of the pitch again this coming season.
Tonight, Hearts play their first match since entering administration last month, against Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest at Leigh Sports Village Stadium, in Greater Manchester, at 7.30pm tonight.
Paterson has been out of action since January after having surgery on the foot he injured on the training ground but, having had the pin removed at the end of last season, he is back in training and close to making a first-team return, which is a further boost to Locke as he prepares to run the rule over his thin squad.
Locke said: “It’s a real bonus having someone like Callum in the side because he is so versatile.
“Any player that is versatile is invaluable to us at the minute because we don’t have strength in numbers.
“We have got some players who can play in one or two different positions and I think that, over the course of the season, we are going to pick up injuries and suspensions so we will need to call on guys to maybe play in a position that is not their favoured one.
“I don’t intend to play people out of position, obviously, but needs must, and if we have to do that then so be it.”
Paterson has been working alongside Danny Wilson, who suffered a thigh injury at the end of last season, with the club physio to get back to full fitness and Locke continued: “Callum had the pin taken out of his foot in the summer and he has been doing a bit of work on his own and with the physio.
“He and Danny have been doing a lot of work with the physio and I would expect them to be back in training by the end of next week.
“Danny had a bit of a problem with his thigh muscle towards the end of last season. It was actually quite a big tear.
“Obviously it takes quite a long time for something like that to heal, but he is back running now and is definitely going in the right direction.”