HEARTS midfielder Scott Robinson will miss the club’s Championship opener against Rangers following his red card in the pre-season against Ludogorets Razgrad.
The 21-year-old was booked for a heavy challenge after coming on as a half-time substitute against the Bulgarian champions, and was then dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for dissent amid a late flare-up.
The Scottish Football Association is awaiting the referee’s report from the low key friendly at the Leigh Sports Village in Greater Manchester on Thursday, with the onus on the English FA, which provided the referee, to submit the paperwork.
When that report arrives at Hampden the red card will be added to Robinson’s domestic record, leaving the player sidelined for the televised game at Ibrox on 10 August.
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson believes the Ludogorets players antagonised Robinson into losing his cool. Nevertheless, he did not absolve his player of blame.
Neilson said: “I’ve spoken to Scott about it, it was disappointing. It’s a hard one for him because he is going to be suspended for us now. These games matter when it comes to red cards. Hopefully, he learns from it. There are new players coming into the club, things are changing behind the scenes and everyone feels a bit under pressure. Maybe he was too keen.
“I actually thought he popped it about well for the first 20 minutes he was on, but getting the booking seemed to affect him.”
If Robinson had been given a straight red card for violent conduct or serious foul play then the suspension would have been immediate and applicable to the season curtain-raiser against Annan Athletic in the Petrofac Training Cup.
However, as the dismissal resulted from two cautions, the ban will only apply to the league.
Jamie Walker, meanwhile, believes the lack of cash within Scottish football is a blessing in disguise as more and more youngsters land their dream moves. Walker, 21, saw his Hearts team-mate Adam King complete a £200,000 transfer to Swansea City last term and he has already been on the bench in the English Premier League.
Falkirk youngsters Jay Fulton and Stephen Kingsley have also made the move to the Liberty Stadium. And this week Ryan Gauld, Walker’s Scotland under-21 team-mate, completed a remarkable £3 million move to Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon from Dundee United.
Walker said: “With Adam King here, the boys from Falkirk and, obviously, Ryan Gauld, I think it shows that more and more young boys are getting their chance in Scottish football – and the talent is coming through. There are some really good players here and they are getting noticed more and more, that can only be good for the future.
“Nobody can really buy anyone in Scottish football like they used to, especially after Rangers went down. So, part and parcel of that is clubs need to rely on their own players, and they are stepping up. And other countries seem to be noticing that. Look at Ryan Gauld going to Sporting Lisbon. That is an unbelievable move for him.
“Everyone knows now that if they play well they have a great chance of attracting a big club and making a great life for themselves.”
Walker saw his own momentum curtailed last season by a fractured metatarsal in January, just as he was enjoying a run in the first-team and proving one of Hearts’ main attacking threats.
Now back to full fitness, Walker readily admits the upcoming campaign will be a “massive season” as he seeks to realise his undoubted potential.
And he could find himself in a slightly different role, with head coach Robbie Neilson fielding him in a more central position within a three-man attacking midfield behind the striker against Ludogorets Razgrad on Thursday evening.
He continued: “I enjoyed the game. I was allowed to play coming inside, off the right flank, so I had a bit more freedom. Hopefully I impressed the gaffer in that position. I’d like to see myself playing in that sort of role, but wherever the gaffer chooses to play me, this season is a massive one for me.”