When Cole Stockton made his first start for Hearts back in August, he did not think he would have to wait another three months for his next one.
Throughout that spell he managed 68 minutes’ game time, in five sub appearances, and he admits he had started to wonder if his summer move north had been a mistake, fearing that he was never likely to find his way into the management’s matchday plans.
“That does creep into your head, I am not going to lie,” he said. “But the way the staff and the coaching staff have been with me has taken that doubt out of my mind. I’ll always believe in myself, so until I am told otherwise I’ll do my job.
“It’s just me and my partner, Lois, at home. We came up here for me to play football and it hasn’t happened to start off with, but we have just got on with it and I’d like to think my chance has started to come.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m made up with the challenge anyway because I am out of my comfort zone now and that will only improve me.
“It’s more mental. It’s all about keeping your head up every day, coming in and doing what you need to do properly. When your chance does come you’ve got to take it.”
Manager Craig Levein said he has been knocking on the door, literally as well as metaphorically, and when Kyle Lafferty was ruled out of the satrting line-up last weekend due to sickness, the English striker was given the nod.
The 23-year-old proved useful in holding up the ball and playing in the midfield against Ross County, offering something different from the qualities possessed by Lafferty and Isma Goncalves, who have been ahead of him in the pecking order. While he couldn’t find the net, it is likely he will be asked to reprise his role against Hamilton today.
Lafferty is still struggling with a bug and while he may make the bench, Stockton’s physical presence could be an asset against Martin Canning’s men.
“I’ve got to look forward to that physical battle,” he added. “I might not be a player who will get the ball down and run past players, but I will always make sure it’s not a nice day for defenders. I’ll bring them into my world and give them a little bit of rough and tumble. We need to win the battle and earn the right to play our football, get the ball down and score goals, which I’m sure we will.”