BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts defender Kevin McHattie has warned incoming rival Juwon Oshaniwa that he has no intention of surrendering his first-team berth without a fight.
The Nigerian international, who played all four of his nation’s games at last summer’s World Cup, is set to finally receive the appropriate paperwork to complete his move to Scotland this week.
The 24-year-old’s impending signing has thrilled Hearts fans, while head coach Robbie Neilson has claimed that Oshaniwa will be one of the best full-backs in Scotland this season.
However, determined McHattie is adamant he will not become Tynecastle’s forgotten man after performing well in the left-back role throughout preseason.
“I think it’s great that we have more competition for places coming in,” said the Scotland under-21 internationalist.
“He [Oshaniwa] isn’t here yet but hopefully I can rise to the challenge and show the gaffer what I am worth. It’s similar to last year with Adam [Eckersley] and it will be another battle for the jersey this year.
“I just need to keep my head down and try to impress the gaffer in training.
“It’s something you need to thrive off. To have that competition of a player with that kind of experience can only make you a better player. I’m feeling good and determined to show what I can do.”
McHattie played the full 90 minutes as Hearts slumped to a hard-fought 1-0 defeat against English Championship new boys Preston North End on Saturday.
The only goal of the game came in comical fashion after 66 minutes, with goalkeeper Neil Alexander slicing a wayward pass across the face of his own goal, allowing Joe Garner to head home.
“They were a very good side, they passed the ball well,” he added. “They have plenty of strength and pace – a bit of everything really. So it was a good test to come down and play against a quality team.”