'I knew I was going to come on and score': Barrie McKay's Hearts premonition but he's not prepared to make derby prediction

Hearts' Barrie McKay scores to make it 3-1 against St Johnstone.Hearts' Barrie McKay scores to make it 3-1 against St Johnstone.
Hearts' Barrie McKay scores to make it 3-1 against St Johnstone.
Even before he stepped foot on the pitch on Wednesday night, Barrie McKay knew he would score and, in doing so, help Hearts end a 12-year wait for a league victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

“I actually said at half-time, ‘I’m going to come on and score’,” explained the winger, who turned 28 on Friday. “But I don’t even know why I said it because it’s not as if I’m known for goal-scoring! I just had a feeling I was going to get a chance, at least, and thankfully it went in.”

It was the third goal of the season for the player but while he got that prediction spot on against Saints, his fortune-telling skills are murkier in the lead up to the new year derby at Tynecastle. “I can’t see that far into the future! Obviously to score in a derby would be great, but as long as we get the three points that’s all that matters – it doesn’t matter who scores. I’ve already scored more than last season! I always want to score or assist or help the team, and even if I’m not doing that and the team’s winning then that’s all that matters.”

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Missing from the starting line-up in Perth, McKay had to be patient before being given his chance to influence proceedings but, a mercurial talent when firing on all pistons, he is hoping he has done enough to be included from the start when Hearts welcome rivals Hibs to Gorgie on Monday. “Every game, you want to play but it’s the manager’s decision and you need to respect that. We’ve got a good squad here so when you are on the bench you need to come on and impact the game. It’s all about trying to bounce back and help the team, when you are playing and when you’re not. It’s about pushing everyone in the right direction.”

With seven points from nine since the World Cup break that direction is upwards. Sitting third after that midweek win, now they no longer have the dual demands of European and domestic football, McKay believes they can kick on. “We’ve probably not been at our best this season and we’re still up there. There’s a lot more to come from us. I know that and we need to keep pushing and see where it takes us. We need to take one game at a time. We can’t look too far ahead, and that’s what we’ll do here. We’ll just try to pick up three points in every game and see where it takes us at the end of the season.”

With captain Craig Gordon out for the remainder of the season, wherever they end up, it will be top scorer Lawrence Shankland leading them there.“Since Lawrence has come in he’s been brilliant and he does really lead from the front. He seemed to take it in his stride on Wednesday night and hopefully that can continue. “You know what you’re getting from him, he goes about his business - and that’s maybe a sign of a good captain, that they don’t change and try to be something they’re not when they get the armband. For some people, it can weigh a bit too heavy on them but that wasn’t Shanks against St Johnstone.”