Hearts’ Billy King loving his Highland fling with Inverness

Billy King is in Ricky Sbragia's squad and is hoping to add to his collection of Scotland U21 caps against Macedonia and Ukraine.
Billy King is in Ricky Sbragia's squad and is hoping to add to his collection of Scotland U21 caps against Macedonia and Ukraine.
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Billy King doesn’t know what the future holds but the present is all about gaining as much first team experience as possible.

Making the most of a second successive loan spell, the Hearts player has made eight starts in Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s first nine games of the season, sitting out only the trip to Tynecastle to face his parent club. After a decent start to the campaign, with three wins and a draw in their League Cup group matches, they struggled to take that form into the Premiership. But after a 5-1 skelping in Gorgie, King and Co managed to get their first points on the board, beating St Johnstone last weekend.

“I’m enjoying it in Inverness. We haven’t got off to the best of starts but we got an important win last weekend. Things are clicking into place and we are bonding as a team,” he said.

“I wasn’t there last season but the lads say the style under John Hughes was all passing. Richie [Foran, the current manager] is wanting to be more direct.

“He wants wingers to be direct and put crosses into the box. That was music to my ears because that’s what I like to do. The boys have taken time to adapt but I think it is coming together now.

“We did well in the cup but we were playing against a lower calibre of team. Our performances in the league were good but mistakes let us down. Hopefully we can kick on.”

Inverness will have to wait for the chance to build on their win, with international duty, cutting in on the domestic fixtures. But, it gives the winger another chance to impress.

Having featured for Scotland at various age groups, King is in Ricky Sbragia’s squad for the double header against Macedonia, in Edinburgh, on Friday, and then Ukraine on Tuesday and is hoping he can add to his seven Under-21 caps.

He isn’t convinced he will be able to do enough, for Scotland or Inverness, to catapult himself to the forefront of Hearts manager Robbie Neilson’s thinking though. “Obviously I renewed the contract at the end of the season and I spoke to Robbie on Tuesday and he was asking how it was going. If I have a good season, who knows what’s going to happen?”

The 22-year-old had been hoping to make the breakthrough at Tynecastle. Coming back from a loan spell at Rangers, where he made 13 appearances as the Ibrox club wrapped up a return to the top flight, he said he was desperate to make a favourable impact in pre-season but soon sussed his place in the pecking order.

“The impression I got when I came back for pre-season was that I wasn’t going to play. I asked the gaffer if I should go on loan to Inverness and he said it was entirely up to me. I felt I wasn’t going to be in Hearts’ plans and I couldn’t afford to be in that position for another year. So I went up to Inverness and thankfully I’m getting a lot of game time.

“Richie Foran enquired about me and I wanted to play for a manager who wanted me. I knew I would play most of the games.Hopefully that keeps up.”

King will then see where that leaves him. “I’ll be coming back at the end of the season. I’m not really looking at that. I’m concentrating on getting a good season under my belt.

“The players in my positions are top players – Sam Nicholson and Jamie Walker. Sometimes he [Neilson] likes to play Arnaud Djoum on the right. I think a reason he let me go on loan is that he has a lot of options in those areas.

“But it all depends how I play. You never know what the manager’s thinking. People change their opinions in football all the time. Maybe he’ll have a different philosophy next year. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m just trying to concentrate on putting in my best performance just now and still improve as a player.”