The flying winger has been out of action since suffering a serious knee injury at the turn of the year as he prepared with the Socceroos for the Asian Cup.
But Heckingbottom was delighted to see him play the first 45 minutes of last night’s match against Arbroath at Gayfield Park, his comeback outweighing the 3-2 defeat.
The Easter Road head coach said: “He has been training really well. We might have pulled him out of one session for his own good and making sure we keep him in the right direction.
“That’s what pre-season will be about for him and the rest of the boys, getting fit, getting ready, bedding in the new boys. We will be pushing for the League Cup games, we want to win them and go through.
“We want to really be pushing them and get them fit before the first league game.”
Heckingbottom revealed fans are unlikely to see him play his strongest XI during the friendly matches as he brings every player up to speed, ensuring each of them gets the necessary game time.
As such, he made nine half-time substitutions, with Paul Hanlon the only outfield player to remain on the pitch after the interval, before making way for Kosivar Sadiki for the final 30 minutes.
He said: “With Ryan Porteous injured, it will be two of those three (Adam Jackson, Darren McGregor and Hanlon). We’ll probably work our centre-backs a little bit harder so we’ll get them up to speed as quickly as possible.
“The rest, probably 45 minutes apiece, including the young boys who have been training with us until we get the squad fully fit and all the bodies in that we are going to get. And it’s important to get the new players bedded in.”