BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DEMI MITCHELL confesses he has ‘unfinished business’ after signing up for a second stint at Hearts.
The Manchester United defender last night [Tuesday] rejoined the Jambos on loan for the remainder of the season, with the capital club finally getting their man following a summer-long pursuit of the player.
Mitchell, 21, became an immediate fans’ favourite after initially arriving in January, making 11 appearances and scoring his first ever senior goal in spectacular fashion when his effort from distance helped Hearts to a 3-0 win over St Johnstone in February.
However, his blistering momentum was interrupted by a knee injury in February that sidelined the England under-20 international for 10 weeks.
Despite returning for the final two league games of the season, Mitchell is adamant he has plenty more to give.
“I feel like I’ve got unfinished business because I got a little injury, so it’ll be good to get playing again at Hearts,” said Mitchell.
“The injury came at a point when I felt I was doing really well at Hearts. We were in the [Scottish] cup and we were winning. It was just a bit of a downside to things.
“I think there is more to come from me and that’s what I want to show everyone.”
Mitchell was a wanted man during the close-season, with suitors south of the border seeking to snap him up on loan.
But he hailed the influence of absent Hearts boss Craig Levein after pushing for a return to Gorgie.
Although the head coach will not be present this week as he recovers from a health scare in hospital, the youngster is adamant Levein’s belief was a pivotal factor in his decision to renew his ‘love’ affair with the Jambos.
“The manager [Levein] and [assistant head coach] Austin MacPhee made it very clear from day one that I’d be welcome back to come on loan,” explained Mitchell. “They made me feel welcome so that was one of the main reasons I made my decision. I had a few options but I’m here now and that’s what I want to focus on.
“I knew I would get game-time here, even though starting is not a definite because there have been a lot of signings.
“I had a good experience last season and if I didn’t then I wouldn’t be back here. I kind of fell in love with the club.”
Mitchell’s form at Hearts last season evidently did not go unnoticed at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho inviting the flying full-back to join up with the United senior side during their pre-season tour of the U.S..
He lined up against the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Liverpool during the glamour showdowns in the States.
However, with little chance of him usurping Luke Shaw and Ashley Young at left-back, there was no doubt in Mitchell’s mind that he should head out on loan rather than spend the campaign in the under-23 ranks.
“It’s massive to play in front of crowds, its massive to play for points; games that means something,” he told HeartsTV. “It’s not just playing in reserves games or youth team games. This means everything to a lot of people.
“It’s important to get that experience and, while I’ve got a few big games under my belt, but I need to get more.”
With Hearts now boasting Mitchell and Australian defender Ben Garuccio – who has started the season in fine form – as options at left-back, they have farmed Northern Ireland under-21 international Bobby Burns out to top-flight rivals Livingston.
The 18-year-old, who joined the Jambos from Glenavon in his homeland this summer, has made the switch to Almondvale on a season-long loan and becomes Gary Holt’s second signing since replacing Kenny Miller following the capture of Dolly Menga.
Under the terms of the deal, Burns will still be able to turn out for Andy Kirk’s Hearts development squad in the SPFL Reserve League.
“We got the chance to bring Bobby in and felt we had to take the opportunity,” lauded Holt. “Bobby can play in a few position and has a great intensity and work rate to his game, which suits our philosophy down to a tee. He brings us further options and depth and I’m delighted to bring him on board.”