McKay backs Wilson to lead Hearts through tough times

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HEARTS defender Brad McKay insists captain Danny Wilson can lead the players through one of the most traumatic times in the club’s history – even though he is still a youngster himself.

McKay came through the youth system at the Gorgie outfit, learning from seasoned professionals Andy Webster and Marius Zaliukas.

He is one of a number of youngsters who are set to be relied upon heavily this term as the administration-hit club bid to turn around a 15-point penalty.

At 20, McKay is only a year younger than fellow centre-half Wilson. But the newly-appointed club skipper has amassed a wealth of first-team experience playing for Rangers, Liverpool and Scotland.

Wilson, who converted last season’s loan from Anfield into a permanent arrangement this summer, made his first pre-season outing in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Crusaders in Northern Ireland after recovering from a thigh problem. And McKay insists his team-mate is the perfect role model.

McKay said: “You look at Danny and, although he is young, what he has done in his career is incredible. He has played for Scotland, Liverpool and Rangers.

“He played a full season when he was 18. Danny has been great with us. He is great with all the boys and he is a worthy captain. It was great to get him back the other night, it’s been a while now.

“Over the summer, he has been working to get himself fit and, hopefully, he will be available for the first game of the season against St Johnstone.”

McKay, who made one further appearance at the tail end of last season after being handed his debut as a substitute in March’s goalless clash with Hibs, added: “As for myself, I’m just trying to get as many games as I can.”

He could line up against a Liverpool XI today in the second and final game of Hearts’ trip to Northern Ireland and is realising his dream with the club he supports.

But he admitted he could easily have grown up idolising fierce city rivals Hibs had some of his family had their way.

McKay explained: “My mum’s side are Hearts fans. It’s half and half with Hibs in my family. I was almost swayed to be a Hibs fan when I was younger. My uncle took me to the games, but, as soon as I grew up, I realised it was not for me.

“Believe it or not, a paper bag blew into the Hibs goal and I stood up and cheered and it didn’t go down too well. I didn’t go back after that. Being at Hearts is a dream come true.”