Hearts head coach Ian Cathro insists age is no barrier to first team football after watching 18-year-old Rory Currie underline the club’s reputation for giving youngsters a platform to shine.
The striker marked his full debut for the Gorgie outfit with an equalising strike in Wednesday’s gripping 4-2 Scottish Cup extra-time victory over Raith Rovers.
And former Newcastle and Valencia assistant manager Cathro insists Currie is an example to the other academy players that they will be given a chance if they are good enough.
“When these players are ready to play they will play, that’s down to them.
“It’s not down to faith from me or anyone. This is what this club does, it brings through talent and it gives talent that platform.
“There’s Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson as well, that’s a big part of what this club is about.
“We’ve got through to the next round to play Hibs and we’ve done that with six players (Currie, Walker, Nicholson, Jack Hamilton, Liam Smith and Dario Zanatta) that have come through the academy.
“That’s identity, that’s where we’re going to go and we want to improve and win things with those players.
“When the players are ready to come through and play in the team and show quality, they’ll play in the team.
“What they have to be is ready and they have to be better than our other options, that will always be part of this club and I’m here to help that and improve it in the right time and in the right way.”
Former Dundee United academy director Cathro insists Hearts’ commitment to nurturing young talent was a factor in taking the job last month.
He added: “This is one of the things that attracted me to this club right at the beginning, is that they have talent and it’s a club that historically is linked to bringing through young players.
“That’s testament to what this club does and everybody who does that work.”