BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Tynecastle starlet Jamie Walker caught the eye of Spanish cracks Real Betis as his sparkling form helped Hearts romp to the Championship title last term.
However, the 22-year-old insists he must prove himself all over again following the Jambos’ return to the Premiership
Walker, who has also attracted interest from English Championship outfit Birmingham City in the past, made 35 appearances for the capital club last term, scoring 11 times. A superb season included a purple patch between January and March when he bagged eight goals in 11 outings.
But Walker reckons he will be judged solely on his performances in the top flight – starting with today’s televised visit of St Johnstone.
He said: “Last season was only the Championship and I think people recognised that. We were playing against people who were part time and were probably working during the day and doing other stuff.
“Obviously it was great to get linked with other clubs but I’m happy here just now and hopefully I can keep playing well.
“Everyone is full-time this year and it will be tough. We will need to work hard and do what the gaffer is telling us and hopefully we can have a good season.
“Do I need to prove myself again? Yes, that’s part of it. People will be looking in to see how the young boys do this year and hopefully we can kick on this season.
“Those who looked at us in the Championship last year will be looking at us again to see if we can do it again and it is up to all the boys to go and show that they are good enough.
“From my own personal point of view I would like to get more goals this season and keep up the good performances.”
The great expectations surrounding Hearts’ return to the big time are underlined by some bookmakers making them third favourites for the title behind Celtic and Aberdeen.
He continued: “This is Hearts, it’s a big club and it’s used to being in the top league. We are a big club as you can see by us playing at Tynecastle in front of 15 or 16,000 every other week.
“It’s good that we are back and once we see how the start of the season goes, we will take it from there.
“The target is to get in the top six. We have just been promoted but we know this is a big club and everyone will see how the start of the season goes and then take it from there.”
As well as growing up on the field, Walker reckons he has come of age off the pitch following the arrival of his first son, Jase.
He smiled: “It’s hard work and it keeps me on my toes but everything I do, I’m doing it for my son.”