BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts starlet Jordan McGhee is determined to hold onto his starting berth this weekend despite the Jambos back-line finally returning to full-strength.
The gifted 19-year-old endured a frustrating start to the season, failing to start any of the Gorgie club’s first 10 Premiership fixtures amid an influx of defensive reinforcements in the summer.
However, he has been a fixture in the Hearts backline for the last five matches, taking advantage of suspensions to Callum Paterson and Blazej Augustyn and Juwon Oshaniwa’s injury problems to impress in every position across the back four.
Hearts have kept four clean sheets in the five consecutive matches McGhee has started.
That ensures head coach Robbie Neilson will have a headache against Dundee this weekend, with his previous first-choice back four of Oshaniwa, Augustyn, Igor Rossi and Paterson all expected to be available.
And the youngster has no intention of surrendering his place without a fight.
McGhee said: “There have been some difficult times – sometimes you are in the team, sometimes you are out the team.
“In the first nine games I didn’t really feature, just coming off the bench a couple of times.
“Ever since, I have been in the team. I have played in a couple of positions, through injuries and suspensions, but I think I have done really well and hopefully I can keep my place in the team.”
McGhee is returning to domestic duty this weekend after representing Scotland at under-21 against Ukraine last Friday, playing out a disappointing 2-2 draw.
Nevertheless, he believes the experience of working under national boss Gordon Strachan, who assisted Ricky Sbragia for the qualifier, was invaluable.
He added: “It’s great that Gordon has come down and shown an interest. That has pushed everyone on.
“You look at someone like Andy Robertson, who was playing and training with the under-21s, then was playing for the senior team out of the blue. It’s great for everyone to know you can push on and follow in his footsteps.”