BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JOHN SOUTTAR insists he is relishing the prospect of learning from Northern Ireland stalwart Aaron Hughes following the first outing of Hearts’ new look defensive unit.
Hughes, capped 105 times for his country and a veteran of spells with Newcastle, Fulham and Aston Villa, made his debut for the Jambos on Sunday as they played out a 1-1 draw with Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup fourth round.
The 37-year-old can also boast experience of the European Championship and a Europa League final, ensuring Souttar – still only 20 years of age – has the perfect sounding board as he continues his own development.
Lennard Sowah and Andraz Struna also made their debut in a reshuffled back four in Fife, with their maiden appearances ultimately ending in disappointment when Declan McManus’ last-gasp header rescued a replay for the Rovers.
The sides will now do it all over again at Tynecastle tomorrow night, with Scottish Cup holders Hibernian awaiting the victors.
“I try to learn from every player – there’s always something you can learn from every player – but he [Hughes] is an exceptional case,” praised former Dundee United defender Souttar. “He has really made it, hasn’t he?
“He’s played 455 games in the Premier League so it’s good for me to learn from people like that.
“The defence have had nine days together so we’ve got to know each other. There’s a lot of experience in there. The right-back, Andraz, has played a lot of games for Slovenia. Aaron obviously comes with a wealth of experience so it’s good.
“I thought we played well in the first half. We knew what Raith were going to do and I thought we stood up well to them. But it doesn’t matter now. It feels like a defeat because [the equaliser] was so late.
“We just need to go on Wednesday and get the win. We went there to get the win, didn’t do it, but we’re still in the cup so we need to go and get through in the second game.”