Queen of the South 0-0 Hearts
Referee: E Norris
Nottingham Forest have lodged bids of £35,000, £75,000 and, most recently, £150,000 for the Scotland under-21 international, who is considered one of the brightest young prospects in the top flight. Their interest has so far been rejected by Hearts administrators BDO, who are adamant any short-term profit made on Holt would ensure the club would suffer as a competitive going concern next season. Jambos boss Gary Locke yesterday described Forest’s latest attempt to pinch the midfielder at a bargain price as “ridiculous”, and it is an opinion which Paterson shares.
Despite Holt being only 20 and boasting just 25 appearances for Hearts, his team-mate reckons he is already a talisman ahead of what will be a hugely testing campaign. “I see him every day in training and he is an unbelievable talent,” said Paterson. “If he keeps going the way he is then he will be a great player. He is already one of the best youngsters around just now. He could be a £10 million player in five years and is really important to us. We need to keep our good players.
“Of course we want him to stay, he is one of our talismen, one of our best players. I don’t know everything that is going through Jason’s head but, as far as I know, he is going to stay a Hearts player.”
Paterson was speaking after making his return to top-team action against Queen of the South on Saturday following six months on the sidelines with metatarsal damage. In truth, the 18-year-old’s cameo was a rare bright spot for the travelling Hearts fans, who saw their team outplayed in Dumfries, and undoubtedly fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw – largely due to the excellence of goalkeeper Mark Ridgers.
While it was a backs-to-the-wall afternoon for his team-mates, it was a cathartic one for Paterson. The injury, sustained in training in January, was initially thought to be a relatively minor problem which would clear up within weeks. However, surgery was required and he also sat out the League Cup final against St Mirren on 17 March, the most painful moment in the player’s short but promising career so far.
“I was at the cup final, went with the boys on the bus to the game, stayed at the hotel the night before and was in the dressing room afterwards,” he said. “To be involved was great, but not to be in the 18 was really gutting. At the start of the injury I just couldn’t watch them, it was getting to my head but I got used to cheering the boys on.”
It was the Hearts fans’ turn to cheer him on Saturday, and the versatile youngster was given a raucous welcome by the band of travelling Hearts fans on his return on 78 minutes. He could do little to stem a tide of Queens pressure – Chris Higgins hit the bar and Ridgers make fine saves to deny Danny Carmichael, Derek Lyle and Higgins again – but Paterson still lapped up his comeback.
“I’m over the moon,” he continued. “I have been out for such a long time and it is just great to be back. I could have been back a couple of weeks ago but decided to take it easy. There was no point spending six months on the sidelines and then rushing it back.”
Paterson is defiant regarding Hearts’ hopes of avoiding relegation from the inaugural SPFL Premiership, despite their points deficit. He added: “We have gelled well as a team and played well in pre-season against sides such as Dunfermline and Raith. If we play as well as that in the months ahead we will have no problem overcoming the 15 points deficit.”