BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Don Cowie has fixed his sights on a dream debut for Hearts in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby against Hibernian after penning a two-and-a-half-year deal at Tynecastle.
The 32-year-old joined the Gorgie men after negotiating his release from Wigan Athletic last week and claims he is ‘fit and ready’ to make an instant impact with the Jambos.
Capped 10 times by Scotland – eight under Hearts director of football Craig Levein – the arrival of the former Ross County and Inverness Caley Thistle midfielder allowed Morgaro Gomis to leave for Motherwell on loan in search of greater first-team opportunities.
Cowie has spent the last seven years in English football, with Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan, but has been impressed from afar with the resurgence in Hearts since suffering administration and the subsequent relegation from the Premier League in 2014.
And, although he has set the ambitious longer-term target of catching Aberdeen in second place this season, the Inverness-born player could not fail to be excited by the prospect of making his maroon bow in Sunday’s live TV Scottish Cup clash with Hibs.
He said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. As soon as I heard that Hearts were interested it was the only team that I wanted to sign for. It’s very exciting times at the club right now and I’m delighted to be a part of that.
“I just felt everything was right for me. I could have stayed in England if I had chosen to, but I just thought about how exciting it is.
“There’s a lot of young players here and hopefully with my experience I can help them along their way and show the path for them.
“Even though I was down south, looking from afar, it was clear to see last season there were a lot of good young players and they’ve stepped up to the Premiership this year very well.
“Hopefully if I can aid them in any way possible that will be great.
“I’m ready, I’m fit and raring to go.
“I’ve had a wee glimpse to see what the upcoming fixtures are and it’s pretty interesting.
“It’s the derby on Sunday, so hopefully I can get a good week’s training under my belt and, you never know, maybe appear on Sunday.
“It’s a great club, it’s very exciting. This year they’ve stepped up to the Premiership and are doing very well.”
He added on Hearts TV: “Aberdeen are the target, to try and catch them in second, and I’ve got every confidence with the squad we have we can put a serious challenge down for that.
“And then, going into next season, it’s very exciting and hopefully if Rangers and possibly even Hibs come up, that’s two massive clubs and it will be an exciting league and one that I’m really looking forward to.”
The role of mentor to some of Hearts’ younger players is one that Robbie Neilson has also earmarked for Cowie, who the head coach is thrilled to have recruited.
Neilson said: “I’m delighted to get Don signed up. He’ll bring experience to the table, which is invaluable when you’re trying to blood younger players into the first team.
“He’s played in the Scottish top-flight before so knows our game, and he’s played at the highest level down south and won a championship, so I know he’s a winner.
“Having played in England, he’ll show the players here the level they’ll have to get to if they have aspirations to play there themselves.
“He’s a great capture and I’m certain he’ll prove to be great value for this club.”