Hearts keeper Ridgers ready to seize his chance

Hearts keeper Mark Ridgers saves Ross Callachen's penalty in Tuesday's League Cup clash. Picture: SNS
Hearts keeper Mark Ridgers saves Ross Callachen's penalty in Tuesday's League Cup clash. Picture: SNS
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FROM a selfish point of view, Mark Ridgers will be happy if Jamie MacDonald’s ankle injury keeps him out of this weekend’s trip to Inverness. But he knows that from a team perspective, the last thing a very young Hearts side needs is another experienced player sidelined.

MacDonald was forced to quit part way through the first half of Tuesday night’s League Cup tie away to Raith Rovers after he twisted his ankle. The goalkeeper and manager Gary Locke both hope he will be fit for the return to league action on Saturday but if not, Ridgers showed he is an able deputy.

“I’ve been waiting a while for my chance and it would be nice to get a run of games,” admitted the 23-year-old. “But hopefully the injury is not too bad to Jamie. The last thing this squad needs right now is more injuries. So it’s a funny one.

“For my personal development, playing games at the top level is what I need to do.

“I feel if I am doing that I will progress a lot more quickly and that’s two-and-a-half games I have played for the Hearts first team now, so it’s difficult.

“Fingers crossed Jamie’s not too bad. It would be nice to get another game. But we don’t want injuries because we don’t have a big squad.”

Having already lost Ryan Stevenson, the side also face the prospect of going into this weekend’s fixture without their suspended captain, Danny Wilson, and Kevin McHattie, if the left-back does not successfully appeal his red card against Aberdeen.

With Inverness starting the season brightly and occupying the opposite end of the league table from Hearts, the task facing whoever starts is onerous.

“Hopefully the boys rest up well because it’s going to be difficult if we have a makeshift defence, but luckily enough I played with all these guys at under-20 level.”

Just turned 23, Ridgers laughs at the fact he is the fourth oldest squad member. But with that youthfulness comes an exuberance that means they never know when they are beat, fighting until the last in league and cup games this term.

On Tuesday it went all the way to penalties and while Brad McKay slotted home the winning spot kick, he was only in a position to do so thanks to the saves pulled off by the former Scotland U-21 ’keeper.

“Jamie was one of the first to congratulate me. We are vying for the same position but at the end of the day we are training together and we are friends.

“He said to me once that he had waited long enough for his opportunity, so he doesn’t want to let it go. And I’m the same, if I get an opportunity I won’t want to let it go.

“For me, it’s a case of keeping Jamie on his toes.”