Hearts striker Conor Sammon insists age is no barrier – even though new boss Ian Cathro is only four months older than him



Hearts striker Conor Sammon insists age does not matter – even though new gaffer Ian Cathro is only four months older than him.

And the towering Irishman insists the adage ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ applies to managers as well as players.

Much was made of Cathro’s credentials when he was unveiled as Robbie Neilson’s successor at Tynecastle nearly a fortnight ago.

(Pic: heartsfc.co.uk)

But after admiring the former Valencia, Rio Ave and Newcastle United assistant manager’s CV, the Sammon has been impressed with how the former Dundee United youth guru has handled himself in the role so far.

Cathro’s dugout debut got off to a 2-0 defeat at Rangers last weekend but ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Patrick Thistle, Sammon is adamant that the rookie head coach will be a success.

Sammon said: “It’s unusual that the gaffer is the same age as me, but even Robbie Neilson wasn’t that much older.

“When I first came in, it was refreshing to have someone who is so young. I think you can relate to them a bit more.

“People look at it and sometimes think: ‘Does he have the authority?’

“I think it’s like a player. If a young player is good enough, he’ll get his chance no matter his age. That’s the case with the manager just now.

“His avenue into coaching is incredible. Look at the places he’s worked, I’m sure he’s learned a lot of things along the way.

“Now he’s at this point where he’s the main man. It must be exciting for him to cut his teeth here as a manager.

“It was quite difficult last week when you’ve only got a couple of days and you’re straight into a game. It was unusual for us and I’m sure it was the same for him.”

With experience from Spain and Portugal working at Valencia and Rio Ave respectively, Sammon expects Cathro to make subtle changes to the team.

He added: “We’re looking to build and I think the new manager is looking to improve us. That’s him aim, to give us new ideas.

“I’m sure he’ll have his own thoughts he’ll try to implement over the next couple of months. It’s been nice having a full week’s training with him ahead of the Partick Thistle game.

“We’re learning and getting used to each other.

“We’ve only had a week and a half. I think he’s probably cautious not to change things drastically.

“Players are creatures of habit and you get into your routines. I’m sure he’ll have his own way, which will definitely be different from the way Robbie did it.

“He’s probably aware that he doesn’t want to completely change things straight away.

“We have done certain drills in training that really make you think about different aspects of the game, whether it be attacking, pressing or communicating.

“It’s exciting to think ahead to the sessions we’re going to have and how we’re going to learn along the way.”

Despite being used to coaching in front of huge crowds at Valencia and Newcastle, Sammon reckons Cathro will be blown away by his first experience of Tynecastle.

He added: “I think it’ll be overwhelming because it is such an incredible atmosphere.

“I played there as an opposition player years ago and experienced it but it’s special when you’re a home player.

“You want things to go well, you want the fans excited and the place to be rocking – like it was against Rangers a couple of weeks ago. That’s probably the best I’ve heard it.”

Sammon admits is hoping to catch Cathro’s eye after falling out of favour under predecessor Neilson.

The former Kilmarnock, Derby and Wigan player has been on the bench in Hearts’ last seven matches but is the first to admit he should have more than one goal to his name.

He added: “I’m keen to impress like all the players are. From my point of view it’s about scoring goals, I’ve not been scoring enough from the opportunities I’ve had and that’s all on my shoulders.

“I’m hoping I can learn from the manager and he can give me pointers here and there that I can take on to so I can get into positions and score more goals, which is my aim.

“I’m hoping I can improve and if the manager can help me then that’s fantastic.

“I think it comes from going on a run, you miss a few chances and then all of a sudden it does subconsciously get on your mind. You think, ‘I’ve gone three, four, five, six games without scoring’.

“With every striker it’s confidence and it’s getting into that routine of scoring. I just need one to go in for me then I think it will be a case of how many on top of that then.”

Sammon insists he is just as frustrated as the Hearts fans about his form but admits he has not let the the criticism get to him.

Some supporters booed the decision to name Sammon as the sponsors’ man of the match in the humiliating Europa League defeat to Maltese minnows Birkirkara in July.

He added: “I think you have to be quite thick-skinned. When I was younger it would affect you, you would come away from the game and think about these things an awful lot.

“As you get older you learn to deal with it better, how to channel that frustrations.

“The fans are frustrated when you get a chance and the ball does not go in the back of the, that’s natural. “I’m the same, I’m angry at myself, it’s a double whammy.

“I just need to keep working hard, that’s my way of getting through tough times. There’s no substitute for that hard work and determination.”