Hearts striker admits both he and the team need to improve next season

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Hearts striker Craig Wighton insists both he and the team need to improve after underperforming last season.

Wighton made his 19th and final appearance of the campaign as a substitute in last Saturday’s agonisingly 2-1 Scottish Cup final loss to Celtic.

Progress to the Hampden showdown was the only consolation for the Hearts support, who had seen their team lead the Premiership until November, following a disappointing sixth place finish.

(Pic: Hearts TV)

On a personal level, Wighton has also struggled for form since joining in a £100,000 move from Dundee last summer.

A niggling ankle injury did not help but the 21-year-old is keen to show the Hearts fans that he has a long-term future at Tynecastle.

Wighton said: “It’s not been the season I wanted, I’m not going to hide away from that. 

“It’s not been good enough at times and I probably haven’t done myself favours when I have played. 

“It’s up to me perform every week to get in the team. There is a lot of competition here so I need to be better. 

“I’ll go away in the summer and work hard and come back and hopefully I can hit the ground running.”

Wighton admits the team’s collapse during the second half of the campaign, which included a run of one win in their last nine matches, was also bitterly frustrating.

He added: “I think everybody knows that it’s not been good enough recently, certainly in terms of the last two months. 

“We’ve had a lot of results that haven’t been good, and it’s no just that – it’s performances as well.

“We’ve not performed in a lot of games recently. I thought at Parkhead a week earlier we were good, as we were at Hampden against the best team in the country. 

“There is no point in doing that at the end of the season, though, we need to do that every week.

“We always believe in what we’ve got and in the build up to the final other people maybe didn’t give us a chance but we certainly believed and at 1-0 I thought we were quite comfortable.

“All in all, I thought we did really well and it was probably two poor goals to lose.”

The performance of 16-year-old left-back Aaron Hickey in taming Celtic winger James Forrest at Hampden was a huge plus for Hearts and Wighton insists the young players are ready to make their mark.

He added: “Aaron’s been brilliant, he was playing reserves before and you could see the talent that he has.

“It’s a big step going from reserves to first team but in the last two games he’s been absolutely brilliant. 

“It’s good to see young boys coming through, Harry Cochrane was on the bench at Hampden and you’ve got Connor Smith. 

“There are a lot of young boys here with a lot of talent. It’s a credit to them and the reserve coaches and if they keep working hard they’ll have big futures.”

 
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