Hearts keeper Harry Stone opens up on year of mixed fortunes

Harry Stone was happy to head out on loan last season but after a year of mixed fortunes, the young Hearts goalkeeper sees greater value in sticking around the capital club this term as he looks to convince people he is on the right path.

MARBELLA, SPAIN - JUNE 26: Harry Stone during a Hearts training session during their pre-season training camp in Spain, on June 26, 2022, in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
MARBELLA, SPAIN - JUNE 26: Harry Stone during a Hearts training session during their pre-season training camp in Spain, on June 26, 2022, in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

The 20-year-old has enjoyed two fruitful loan periods at Albion Rovers but, sandwiched in between, was a less productive spell at Partick Thistle and he does not want to face further inactivity.

“Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up,” said Stone. “I played a few games [at Partick] but then I came out of the team and Jamie Sneddon came in and set a club record for the number of consecutive clean sheets! I was training hard on the pitch every week, but when he's doing that you've just got to hold your hands up. Then I was recalled and I went back out on loan [at Cliftonhill], which was a bit better for me.

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“It wasn't wasted time because it happens to everyone throughout their career, when you find yourself out of the team and have to work to get back in. Every loan is for learning and I definitely still learned something from that loan.”

But, if he is to have a spectating brief, the youngster, who has been tipped as a future first team regular by manager Robbie Neilson, says there are more instructive places to watch, listen and learn, which is why he is pleased to be staying with Hearts where he can work closely with first team choices Craig Gordon and Ross Stewart.

“They're keeping track of me and helping me every day, giving little coaching tips and points on lifestyle. They're both a big help and so is Paul Gallacher, the goalkeeping coach. He always keeps me right.

“We [Neilson and Stone] have had a couple of chats. There's nothing set in stone, but it looks like I'll be staying at Hearts and playing in the B team every week. Nothing's confirmed yet but staying here, staying within the squad, training every day, that's sort of invaluable, especially with Craig Gordon here to learn from.

“You know, that’s the opportunity to learn from the best goalkeeper in Scotland, arguably the UK.

“Hopefully, with a few European trips, I'll get to travel on them as well.”

Playing most weeks in the Lowland League, staying on the books means there is scope to step up if circumstances clear the way. But he knows the likelihood is that he will have to be patient as he works towards his dreams.

“When you've got Craig Gordon ahead of you there's not much you can do except keep the head down and hope a chance or two will come if I stay at the club. I'm just concentrating on my football and we'll see what happens.

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“It happened last season with Covid cases. It can happen in the span of one night where you're called up to the bench. There's the possibility of injuries as well, so remaining at the club can be a good thing for me.

“The pathway is there for me, which is a good thing.”

First and foremost it is a learning process but he hasn’t lost track of the fact it could also be the means to an end.