MEHDI TAOUIL delivered one of his finest performances for Hearts against St Mirren and, according to manager Gary Locke, is becoming a key component of the Tynecastle team.
Taouil is likely to keep his place for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby after an imperious display last weekend.
The Moroccan internationalist has been something of an enigma since joining Hearts in summer 2011, but, after injuries and loss of form, Locke believes he is now beginning to showcase his talents.
“Saturday was possibly Mehdi’s best performance for Hearts,” said Locke today. “I’ve worked with him for a long time and I know what he’s capable of. It’s probably been a frustrating season for him, as it has been for myself because I know what he can do.
“If he produces that type of performance, there aren’t many players in the SPL who will live with him. He’s got great skill and he does things quickly, so he’s a big asset for us.
“Any player who is playing with confidence will want the ball. If confidence is low and you make a mistake, the fans can get on top of you and sometimes it’s difficult. Mehdi is showing his qualities now.”
Another Hearts player in fine fettle is 19-year-old Jamie Walker, who struck a spectacular opener in the 3-0 win over St Mirren. “I’ll always encourage my front men to have a go because I’d rather see them beat someone and get crosses into the box than come down the pitch all the time,” said Locke.
“Some of the runs Jamie made in the first half were fantastic. That showed when Danny (Lennon) had to make a change quite early in the game because he saw Jamie as a big danger. That’s testament to him.”