Jamie Walker says young Hearts team can succeed
JAMIE Walker believes the young Hearts team of which he is a part can improve quickly, win the League Cup and get into the top six.
A very inexperienced Hearts side performed superbly last month to defeat Inverness Caley Thistle in the League Cup semi-final at Easter Road, but have won only once since. Now, as his team prepares to face Terry Butcher’s side again, this time in the league at Tynecastle this afternoon, Walker believes they are due a return to winning ways.
“The past couple of weeks haven’t gone so well, so we’re looking forward to this game,” the 19-year-old said. “We’re due the fans a good performance. You can’t play your best every week, but we will try our best every week, and, hopefully, the fans stick behind us and help us. They’ve been brilliant with me since I came into the team.
“I think the fans can see we’re in a transitional period. We’re going to have a few bad results along the way, but we could win the cup and get into the top six.”
Manager John McGlynn’s faith in his young players was justified in the semi-final, which Hearts won on penalties after going a man down when Scott Robinson was sent off. Walker sees both McGlynn and Hearts’ player development manager Darren Murray as key figures in his own career, particularly because of the way they have encouraged him to have confidence in his own ability.
“The manager’s help has been massive. I was at Raith with him as well – he’s the only manager I’ve worked under. He’s helped me so much in the past few months, and last year when I was on loan as well. I can’t thank him enough for that. Darren comes into the changing room and he tries to help us. He just says ‘Try and be calm and do your best – everyone knows what you can do, so just try and do that on the pitch’.”
Hearts are up against it again this afternoon, as they were in the semi-final four weeks ago. Of the team who played that day, captain Marius Zaliukas has since been ruled out for the season because of injury, while Andy Driver has left the club for Houston Dynamo. In addition, Jamie Hamill’s return from a long lay-off has been delayed by a thigh strain and Darren Barr is a doubt after clashing heads with Danny Wilson in last week’s 3-0 defeat by Kilmarnock.
But, as Walker pointed out, Caley Thistle have also suffered a dip in form. “Since we beat them in the semi-final they’ve not really done so well, so hopefully we can get the three points with a good performance.”
Hearts will surely have to dig deep to do that and would probably not be too dissatisfied with a share of the points. But, having thrived in adversity the last time he faced Inverness, Walker has high hopes of emulating that semi-final performance this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Owain Tudur Jones admits Inverness have to arrest their current decline or else they could find themselves sliding all the way down to the wrong end of the SPL. The Highlanders’ impressive mid-season form took them to the heady heights of second place behind Celtic, but Terry Butcher’s side have drawn just one of their last six games and were leapfrogged by Motherwell with a 3-0 defeat by the Steelmen at Fir Park last week.
Ahead of today’s game Tudur Jones, aware that only 11 points separate Motherwell from second-bottom, said: “We could finish anywhere in the league, apart from top or bottom, there is no question of that. The team hasn’t changed that much. If you take the Motherwell game out of it we have been playing pretty well, on the whole. We are still above most of the teams but this run can’t carry on or else teams will start to pass us, as Motherwell did last week. But we are fine, we are feeling good and confident and ready to go again.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
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