Hearts sign up Paul Gallacher as coach and back-up keeper

Paul Gallacher left Partick Thistle at the end of the season. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Paul Gallacher left Partick Thistle at the end of the season. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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Goalkeeper Paul Gallacher is the latest player to join Hearts.

The 36-year-old former Scotland international, who was out of contract after leaving Partick Thistle, has signed a two-year deal, taking on the role of goalkeeping coach while also providing competition for the No 1 jersey.

Manager Robbie Neilson regards 22-year-old Jack Hamilton highly and the plan is for him to tap into the experience of a keeper who was the first choice at Dundee United at the same age.

“I’m happy to get Paul signed up,” said Neilson, who was lacking a coach and vital experience in his goalkeeping ranks following the departure of out-of-contract Neil Alexander at the end of the season.

“He’s a vastly experienced goalkeeper and is a good goalkeeper coach too, having spent time in that role at Partick Thistle. He’ll primarily be a coach, but he’ll be registered as a player too and I know he’ll be ready if called upon.

“I’m sure Jack Hamilton and the other goalkeepers at the club will benefit greatly from Paul’s knowledge.”

Gallacher, pictured, is the latest acquisition as the Gorgie club looks to bolster their strength in depth they push to improve on last season’s third-place Premiership finish.

Offering another option in defence, Faycal Rherras, has been recruited chiefly to fill one of the full-back berths but the Belgian-born Moroccan can operate anywhere along the backline.

Reporting back for pre-season training this week along with the rest of the squad, he says he is already settling in and excited by the challenge ahead, starting with the kick off to the Europa League qualifiers at the end of the month.

“I heard a lot of good things about this club, that it is like a family club,” Rherras said. “I’m just very happy to be here. For every player it is good to play in Europe. The Europa League is a very good competition and now I have the chance to play in it.

“Every footballer knows that they have competition for their position. I am ready, I know that I have the capacity to help the team play 
better. I’m not scared about it, I’ll give my all.”

Rherras expects tough competition, not just for a starting spot but also for points and silverware. He added: “I’ve heard good things about the competition in Scotland. My dream is to play in England, and I know that in Scotland the league is similar in physicality and the style of football.

“This move is a chance for me to do well and adapt to those characteristics.”