BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS boss Robbie Neilson watched Callum Paterson rescue a point for the Jambos – before backing the Scotland star to find the net at Wembley.
The 22-year-old rose highest in the box to power home a dramatic 87th minute leveller against the Saints.
It was Paterson’s sixth goal of the season and he proves himself to be one of the most dangerous physical presences in Scottish football when attacking set pieces.
Having usurped Alan Hutton at right-back for the national side, his attention will now turn to Scotland’s crunch World Cup qualifier against England on Friday night as Gordon Strachan’s men attempt to stun the Auld Enemy.
His effort cancelled out goals from Danny Swanson and Chris Kane, with Prince Buaben having opened the scoring for Hearts, and when the men in pink get a corner kick in London, there is no-one Neilson would rather see attacking it than Paterson.
He lauded: “I would definitely be putting him in, if we get a set-play at Wembley he’s the man you want in there.
“Believe me, no matter who you are playing against he’ll score goals.
“Hopefully he plays, it’s up to Gordon [Strachan] but I think he has played well the last two games. So I don’t see why he wouldn’t be in it.
“Callum is our main threat at the moment, he gives us goals at set plays and in open play as well. He’s a big threat but, in general, we still need to get into our stride in the final third.”
Paterson, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of crossing swords with Manchester City superstar Raheem Sterling – four years on from their battle at Tynecastle.
If he gets the nod from Gordon Strachan he is likely to be tasked with shackling the £49 million winger, a task he has some experience of from Hearts’ 2012 Europa League tie against Liverpool.
“I’m excited to be part of that match – it’ll be the biggest game I’ve ever been involved in and a massive achievement,” beamed Paterson. “For me even to be in the squad is a big thing.
“Hopefully I can get a game and see how Raheem has kicked on since we played Liverpool five years ago!
“Not too much, hopefully, because I played right-midfield that game and he gave me a torrid time.”
While delighted to have salvaged a draw for the men in maroon, Paterson was far from satisfied with another porous display from Hearts, who have now conceded seven goals in their last three matches.
He added: “Two score five goals in the last two matches – getting just two points – is not great at all. We need to rectify that. At the start of the season we were keeping a lot of clean sheets. We need to get back to that.
“If you don’t concede, then you don’t lose games. We’ve made things difficult for ourselves in the last couple of games.”