David Templeton still seeking regular run of form at Hearts after injury-hit spell

Hearts winger David Templeton is aiming to find a higher level of consistency in the Scottish Premier League this season, starting with today’s opening fixture at home to St Johnstone.

Templeton, 23, has been at Tynecastle for five and a half years but still wants to improve in the forthcoming campaign.

“Last season I was hoping to get a little bit more consistent but that didn’t really happen, then at the end of the season I got a couple of bad injuries,” he said. “Some games I played really well and in others I just wasn’t involved as much so I think this season it is up to me to go and get myself involved in games and try and influence it a lot more.”

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Despite Hearts losing almost 20 players over the duration of the summer, with no signings being made, Templeton is targeting a challenge for second place with Rangers now out of the SPL picture. “It will be totally different not having them in it but we have got to get on with it and look to challenge now. All the other teams around about us will be looking to secure second now and we are no different,” he said.

Hearts host St Johnstone knowing the Perth side have already played two competitive fixtures, losing to Turkish side Eskisehirspor in the Europa League second qualifying round but Templeton believes it does not necessarily give the visitors an advantage.

“I’m not sure, obviously competitive games are a lot different from playing friendlies and having those two games might make a difference, but I’m sure all the boys in our dressing room will tell you different and they will all be buzzing to go into this game,” he said.

New Hearts manager John McGlynn will be working with a host of young players due to the financial constraints at the club, but Templeton is happy with the new formation and tactics set out by the 50-year-old.

He said: “I like the system a lot, I like to come inside and if I do go down the line then I’ve got Sutts [John Sutton] to aim for in the middle.

“If it’s a smaller striker there then it’s harder, that’s why I liked to come inside a lot last season. Now I’ve got that option to hit the byline and I’m sure Sutton will get on the end of the crosses.”

Templeton’s current contract expires next summer but the former Stenhousemuir youngster was not thinking about negotiations on the eve of the new season, confirming talks have yet to open. “I will wait and see if they come back with anything for me and then I will sit down and think about it, but right now I’m concentrating on the start of the season,” he said.

While McGlynn prepares to take the reins at Hearts, Steve Lomas is gearing up for his first full season at St Johnstone. The former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder took over from Derek McInnes last November and guided the Perth club to a European spot, albeit they have already been knocked out of the Europa League qualifiers with that defeat to Eskisehirspor.

Lomas is keeping his fingers crossed that his small squad, to which he is still hoping to add, will stay clear of injuries this season.

“You need a bit of luck, there are no two ways about it,” said Lomas ahead of the Hearts match. “As Terry Brown [former West Ham chairman] used to say at West Ham, give me a lucky manager before a good manager.

“We have a small squad and it is important that everyone is healthy. We learned last season that whenever we had three or four of our starters out, we struggled. I suppose a lot of teams would say that but especially ourselves.

“Missing four or five players after the split hit us hard so we hope to get a bit of luck.

“So we are still keen to get two and three in and if we do that we will have the competition for places like we did last year.”

Lomas is expecting a tough opener in Gorgie and pays no heed to suggestions that the Tynecastle side will be weaker this season after losing players such as Ian Black, Suso Santana, Adrian Mrowiec, Stephen Elliott, Rudi Skacel, Craig Beattie, Marian Kello and David Obua. The Northern Irishman explained: “I know John, he is a very passionate and knowledgeable man.

“They have lost some players but they still have good players, like Driver, Templeton and Sutton, who has come back into the team with a point to prove. I like McGowan and you have the experience of Zaliukas and Webster and they have always had a good youth policy.”

Lomas will decide before this afternoon’s kick-off whether to hand a competitive debut to new signing Rowan Vine, who joined earlier this week.

Vine, the former QPR player, whose previous clubs include Portsmouth and Birmingham, scored twice in St Johnstone’s 2-1 friendly win over Bristol City at McDiarmid Park last weekend.

However, Lomas said: “We will 
have to decide. He missed a bit of pre-season but did relatively well in the Bristol game. We will make a decision tomorrow.”