Hearts: Ian Black's game for a laugh

IAN BLACK admits the dramatic turnaround in Hearts' goalscoring fortunes has even raised a few laughs in the home dressing-room.

The Jambos were criticised for their lack of firepower last season, having scored just 35 goals in their 38 league games.

However, after three games of the current campaign, the Tynecastle side have already bagged nine goals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A 1-1 draw with St Johnstone and two 4-0 victories in the space of just a few days, over Hamilton and Elgin, have seen the Jambos' confidence levels soar.

Black said: "There have been a few jokes flying about the dressing-room in the last few days, with some of the boys are saying that we've already scored more goals than we did in the whole of last season.

"It's great to see that, though, there's great banter and it also good to see us putting so many chances away in the space of just a couple of weeks. The midfielders have been helping out, the strikers have been in great form so far and it would be brilliant if we could keep that up.

"It would be great to get a few goals of my own, although my main aim, obviously, is just to be in the team every week and help them to win every week.

"If I can weigh in with a few goals of my own to add to that, then great. We've had a good start to our league campaign and we got a good win against Elgin in the Cup the other night so the confidence levels are right up there.

"Everyone is buzzing after the wins over Hamilton and Elgin and, hopefully, we can keep that momentum going.

"It would be great if we could take our form from the last few games into Sunday's match against United and, hopefully, we can keep all three points at Tynecastle."

Black reckons that the addition of Kevin Kyle to the Gorgie side's squad has given them a boost, both on and off the pitch, with the striker already having two goals to his name despite having only played in fits and starts as a result of surgery in the summer. The big striker appears to already have built up a good understanding with his new team-mates and, following his penalty against Accies last weekend, headed home his first from open play against Elgin.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Black added: "We know how much of a threat big Kevin can be because we have seen him do the business for other teams on so many occasions.

"If he gets the right kind of service, we know he is more than capable of putting them away.

"He's had his injury problem but he has done well for us when he has played and he managed to put another one away the other night, on top of the penalty that he had already scored.

"Obviously, once he gets some more games under his belt and builds up his match fitness, then we should see even better for him. He is full of goals, he's full of good banter and all of the boys enjoy him being here.

"He has fitted in well and has made himself at home, he's a great guy to have around the place and out on the pitch.

"You can play the ball long for him, but he can hold the ball up well and gets shots in from outside the box so we are still playing good football.

"We know how to work with him already, maybe because most of the players in the team know all about him, and I think that is starting to show on the pitch."

Kyle should get the chance to showcase his talents again on Sunday when United are the visitors to Tynecastle, although in-form Calum Elliot will have to pass a late fitness test to join him in the front line.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Arabs, of course, exited the Europa League qualifiers last night after a creditable 1-1 draw away from home saw them lose 2-1 on aggregate to AEK Athens.

After their hosts' pitch was declared unplayable, last night's match was eventually played at the home ground of Olympiakos after their original replacement venue - the home of Athens club Panionios - was vandalised by fans in response to AEK's plan to use their stadium.

Black reckons that United could suffer after-effects from the whole saga but insisted that manager Peter Houston will make sure that his players arrive at Tynecastle raring to go again.

The Hearts midfielder admitted: "It would obviously be in our favour if they were to feel the effects of travelling to Greece and also the other problems that they have had ahead of the game.

"But they are all professional players and they will be well organised. Peter Houston will make sure of that.

"They will be up for it and they will make it really tough for us even though they didn't have the best of results last weekend and then played again last night against AEK.

"Housty knows all about Hearts and I know he will have his players really fired up and ready to go for this one. It's a big game for both sides."

Having seen the Tangerines lose four without reply against Inverness last weekend, Black knows they will be keen to bounce straight back, adding: "Last weekend would have been a huge disappointment for them, although it was a great result for Inverness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I think really it probably came down to concentration and I am sure they will be keen to pick it up again and try to bounce back with a good result against us."

The 25-year-old is one of the more experienced players in the Hearts side now, with youngsters like David Templeton and Gary Glen coming in to lower the average age in the Tynecastle ranks.

He believes there is an abundance of talent available to manager Jim Jefferies now - and is just delighted to be involved.

He continued: "I am happy with the way that things have been going so far, I am feeling fit and fresh and I have been playing, so hopefully I am keeping the gaffer happy as well.

"That is my main aim - and to try to keep my place in the team. I'm like one of the old heads in the squad now. It's a really young squad. I think that the oldest player now is big Kev and, apart from that, the average age is something like 23.

"They might be young but they all work hard and they all have great ability and I think that is showing in the games.

"I think we're all excited by what the rest of the season holds for us now."

Related topics: