BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DON COWIE insists wonderkids Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald are just the tip of the iceberg as he predicted the emergence of a golden generation at Tynecastle.
Cowie firmly believes the current crop will be comparable with the batch that produced the likes of Jamie Walker, Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson and reckons ten youngsters could break into the first-team.
Cochrane, 16, scored his first goal for the club in Sunday’s startling 4-0 win over Celtic, while another player born in 2001, McDonald, also featured – just days after claiming two assists on his debut against Dundee.
“When I was 16 I wasn’t even contemplating first team football,” said Cowie. “They are, because of their ability. Everything else will happen in due course, but they have a great attitude and are a breath of fresh air.
“They take the advice that’s given and it was great to see the rewards there for them on Sunday.
“They drive the senior players on because, if we don’t step up, they will take our place! That’s the reality of it.”
The likes of Jamie Brandon, Lewis Moore, Rory Currie and Daniel Baur have also been involved this term as Craig Levein gives youth a chance.
“It isn’t just Harry [Cochrane] and Ant [McDonald],” he continued. “There are half a dozen – maybe 10 – who are champing at the bit to get involved.
“We’ve said how exciting a time it is and, when you aren’t winning people might say ‘it’s not exciting’. But when the results start to turn, and these young players are involved, then it is exciting. A lot of the boys are training with us now on a daily basis and we see their quality first-hand so we are confident they are ready if the manager picks them.
“The club is in a great place. I know that’s easy to say after three wins in a week, but it is true. We’ve had that spell with your [Jamie] Walkers, [Sam] Nicholson and [Callum] Paterson coming through. I’m sure the club are just as excited about the current group.”
In ending Celtic’s remarkable domestic unbeaten run at 69, Hearts underlined their own progress as the fruits of Craig Levein’s labour become apparent. The Jambos are now just three points behind city rivals Hibs, largely lauded this term, ahead of next week’s meeting of the sides.
And Cowie was in no mood to underplay the achievement of vanquishing the invincibles.
“Just the magnitude of Sunday, with the record being broken – I have never played in a game like that where a team has stopped a run of such greatness,” said Cowie. “You have to applaud them and what they have achieved, the consistency.
“We rode our luck at times, they had a few chances and if they had got one early in the second half it could have been a different game.
“But we got the goal and that was massive. It was a momentous day and it has given the whole club a lift.”
Following a ‘momentous’ victory over the Hoops – the high point of a six-game unbeaten run – Cowie knows they face a very different challenge at the home of St Johnstone this weekend, having not won at McDiarmid Park in the top flight since November 2010.
“We’ve got St Johnstone now and it’s a different game, all of a sudden people will be expecting us to win,” the former Scotland international continued.
“If we don’t go and get a result this weekend then what happened against Celtic will count for nothing. We need to really build on it. That’s probably the one thing we haven’t managed to do this season; have any real consistency.”
Cowie was speaking as the Jambos made their annual visit to the Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital, with the club donating 11 DVD players for use on the wards and players personally purchasing gifts for the kids.
“We enjoy coming and if it means putting a wee smile on the kids faces for five or 10 minutes then it’s great,” added Cowie.
“We are asked to do things in the community at different times and everybody is willing to do it. It’s great to have that relationship, the harmony between the two, and it can help off the field as well as on it.”