Date: 11th November 2008 at 9:36pm
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With Hearts` recent form not up to much, doom and gloom surrounding lack of goals, commitment and formation etc, I thought I`d try to bring us all back up for a change. I was at Tynecastle on Sunday and was very happy to witness the U19s progress through to the next round of the Scottish Cup with a 7-0 horsing of Queen of the South. It was bitterly cold but I`d estimate that there was at least a couple of hundred there which I thought was a pretty decent turn out (a few youth-type players right enough, probably answering a 3-line whip).

I was very impressed by the attitude, commitment and ability of our youngsters and while I`m no expert, I would hope to see some of these guys knocking on the door within the next couple of years. Some of the performances of the day for me were:

Craig Thomson (Right Back) – very willing to go forward without neglecting defensive duties. Strong in the tackle and was instrumental in at least one of the goals. The poor guy takes all the corners and a 5 minute period in the first half saw about 4 or 5 corners from the left hand side – he must have been knackered!

Michael Deland (Left Back) – quite a tall guy and like the RB likes to go forward and link up with the play in the final 3rd. Got himself a goal.

Dylan McGowan/Conrad Balatoni (Centre Backs) – I think these guys look pretty solid especially Balatoni who seems pretty good in the air and strong in the tackle. Both not afraid to come forward a bit to try to find the right pass.

Jonathon Stewart (Centre Midfield) – this was every bit the Captain`s performance. Always wanted the ball, very vocal and got up and down the pitch really well (“the boy`s got a good engine on him”). Got on the score sheet.

Ross McKenzie (Right Midfield) – between him and Stewart for MoM. Good movement, fast, attack minded but was also impressed at him tucking in when his Full Back goes forward (or has to take every corner!). Doesn`t just stick to the right though and is willing to cut inside and try to get into the box. Was certainly involved at some point in most of the goals and provided a cheeky wee back-heel for one of them.

Mark Cowan (Forward) – we were playing with 1 up front and I was impressed at the way this guy could hold up the ball until support came from Midfield (and he never had to wait too long). Shock horror – Hearts striker scores goal!

After about 3-0 it seemed that the whole team really relaxed and were willing to play some slick passes on the deck, lots of running and plenty of awareness of where team mates were and (importantly) where they were going to be – some fancy flicks that might not have been encouraged if the game was tighter, but what the hey! In all fairness QOS were never at the races and to be honest looked out of their depth but let`s not take anything away from a good performance. Interesting to note that both Kostadinov and Copil were not even in the squad which may have been an indication of the quality of opposition but I go and see the U19s a fair bit and they are not regulars by any means.

It`s difficult to predict if players can make the transition to the full team but on the face of it we may have some reason for optimism.


10 Replies to “Hearts – Some Cause For ‘Youthful’ Optimism?”

  • must admit i get more excited about home grown talent breaking through than any big transfer signings maybe i am just old fashioned !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I have to say that I’m really enjoying watching the U19s. I think I’m prepared to be slightly more philosophical about defeats when I can see that the team or individuals played well. OK winning is obviously important but player development must also be a priority. Anything exciting happening in Celtic youth terms?

  • alot of great talent breaking through mate caddis and fox is now on the bench of the first team and we have a great bunch of under 19s playing for the reserves

  • Excellent article, ItsnoMarooned…. and very uplifting too. I’d read a fair bit about these lads wen they were in the U-17s, so its good to know that many of them have moved up to the U-19s ahead of schedule. Of course, a lot of talented youngsters fail to fulfil their potential – so its early days. But its good to know that many of them looked like proper players, when you saw them. Interesting to note that our 2 wonder kids from 2007 – Copil and Kostadinov – are not considered to be good enough. And very good to see that most are Scots too !!! Which clown in the regime decided to offer Cpoil a 5 year contract, and on what basis ? We should have let Celtic get him !!

  • It must be really difficult to predict just how a 15/16/17 year old is going to work out. There’s obviously a huge gap between a promising youngster of that age and a 19 year old breaking into the 1st team. I do have some sympathy with Copil – it must be difficult to leave home for a new country/culture at such a young age. I wonder if clubs set themselves some sort of acceptable ratio in terms of youth development.

  • Agreed on Copil itsnomarooned – far too young and volatile an age to possibly say how it will turn out -always a risk but obviously one they thought was worth taking on the abilities he has. Really good article by the way.

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