Hearts forward Josh Ginnelly opens up on Covid issues and why he's a team player

Josh Ginnelly is a hugely popular figure at Hearts, amongst both team-mates and fans, and that could be seen when he ran away to celebrate putting his team ahead against Dundee United on Sunday.

Playing in a forward role with Liam Boyce, he used his pace to run in behind the United defence, latching onto Alex Cochrane’s accurate long pass before calmly rounding Benjamin Siegrist and scoring into an empty net.

Chants of “Gino” were heard from the big travelling support, while colleagues couldn’t wait to give him the praise he deserved.

It was the 25-year-old’s first start since a 2-1 loss at St Johnstone back in February. On the evidence of Sunday’s performance, it was clear this was a player wanting to showcase what he can bring to the team. He's quick, very quick. He's nimble, as shown by a lovely nutmeg in the second half, and he can mix up his positioning and running to stretch defences laterally and vertically.

It made fans question just why he hadn’t had more of an impact in recent weeks. Ginnelly offered up an explanation.

"I've had two or three Covid things and I'm not vaccinated," he said. “I've had well over two weeks off, so that's given other people opportunities to play every game. They've done so well. I'm not going to start complaining but I'm more delighted with what the boys have done this season.

"It's more the case that I've missed training sessions and I've missed games. I've just been in and out because of Covid. It is what it is. I'm all about the team.”

That was a theme he would return to. Instead of frustration at a lack of starts, he talked up the importance of the team.

Ginnelly is a popular figure amongst team-mates and fans. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

"We've had one team for quite a while and the boys have done so well,” he said. "Credit to Joe [Savage, director of football], the gaffer [Robbie Neilson], Jig and Gordy, they've signed the right players.

"People can go in and affect games. Everybody wants to start in the final but we don't really have individuals. It's all about the team. Whether you play one minute or 90, everybody is together. As we showed in the Hibs game, boys are gutted they haven't started but we were delighted we got over the line.

“I don't know the other changing rooms but we have unbelievable boys in our group. You never feel apart from it because everybody is together. If the gaffer changes it in the final, nobody is going to be raging. It's all about the team. That has been implemented this season.”

After 72 minutes of action, he admitted his calves were “gone”, but he showed his threat in a central role.

Josh Ginnelly made his first start for Hearts since February. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

"When you don't play for a while and you don't get that 90 minutes in, it's tough to go out there against a good side and keep going," he said. “My game is running. You can do as much running as you want off the pitch but on the pitch is different.

"I was just delighted to get out there. I got my goal and we keep moving.

“Playing centrally is different but it's another string to my bow. I'm just an out-and-out winger but when called upon you need to do it for the team.”

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