BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hearts defender Jordan McGhee admits he has to accept that his lack of game time is down to his age – not his ability.
The 19-year-old made his first league start of the season in last Sunday’s victory at Dundee United as a replacement for suspended right-back Callum Paterson.
McGhee came through the youth ranks at Tynecastle with the likes of Paterson, Sam Nicholson, Billy King and Jamie Walker, and has watched his team-mates all become first team regulars.
But the Scotland Under-21 internationalist concedes that it is harder for young central defenders to make the breakthrough.
He said: “It’s difficult seeing my team-mates coming through and playing regularly when I’m not getting a game.
“They’re all top players and they’ve done really well but at the same time I’d say it’s a lot harder to break through as a centre-back than it is for a winger.
“If a winger takes on a full-back and loses it, the fans don’t go so mental but if a centre-back loses a header or makes a stray pass, it’s your fault for the goal.
“I can see why managers don’t trust young centre-backs as much as players in other positions.
“It’s their neck on the line if you make a mistake so that’s where you need the manager to believe in you – I’m sure I’ll prove myself once I get a chance.
“But it is difficult. You just need to have belief in yourself and keep training as hard as you can.
“I’ve asked the manager a few times what I can do to get in the team. He’s told me I just need to be patient.
“He knows I’m good enough to play and I know myself I’m good enough to play but I just need to wait until my time comes.”
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson added: “When you put a young player in up front, they make a mistake and it usually doesn’t lead to a goal.
“If they’re in defence, it can lead to a goal – and that can be difficult to cope with.
“It’s the same with a goalkeeper. A goalie makes one mistake and it can crush him for a few months.”