Monday, August 15, 2022
SportHibsLivingston boss looking forward to locking horns with pal Paul Heckingbottom

Livingston boss looking forward to locking horns with pal Paul Heckingbottom

Livingston manager Gary Holt admits he is desperate to get bragging rights over Paul Heckingbottom after encouraging his friend to take the Hibs job in the first place.

The Lions host Hibs in tomorrow’s televised clash and the former Norwich City team-mates will lock horns in the dugout for the first time.

Holt got in touch with the former Leeds United and Barnsley boss before he was unveiled as Neil Lennon’s successor to endorse the Scottish game and now the Livingston boss is hoping his team can inflict Heckingbottom’s first Premiership loss.

Holt said: “They changed manager to a friend of mine, I played with Paul at Norwich – a really nice guy. 

“I didn’t speak to him before he took the job but we exchanged texts, I didn’t want to trouble him. 

“I text him to say that I saw his name was in the frame and if it was going ahead, I think he’ll love it, it’s a really good club – and Scottish football will be something he’ll enjoy as it’s honest guys putting a shift in. 

“I didn’t think it was fair to meet up for a coffee this week with us playing them on Friday night but we’ll get a good catch up after the game and we’ve arranged to have a coffee in the next couple of weeks.”

Hibs have won four out of their first five league matches under Heckingbottom and can leapfrog Edinburgh rivals Hearts, who are only two points better off in fifth place, with victory in West Lothian.

Holt is not surprised by the impact the 41-year-old has made at Easter Road.

He added: “He is very studious and he’s a clever boy. He puts in the graft and likes the educational side of the game.  

“There is a maybe a different tweak to the system in how they play and how they approach games but the players have bought into it. 

“They were exceptional under Neil Lennon, a great footballing club and it’s the same players as such.

“We knew it was a test anyway whoever was in charge but it’s Friday night under the lights and on TV, what a game to play in.”

Livingston were boosted by the news that midfielders Scott Pittman, who has been attracting interest from Aberdeen, and Keaghan Jacobs signed new deals last week.

Holt admits he sees similarities in Pittman’s journey with how his own career panned out, with the 26-year-old joining the club just over four years ago from junior side Bo’ness United.

Holt added: “My career is well documented, ex-army – went there as a chef for six years and came through that and ended up playing for my country, and it’s always pleasing when you see other boys come through that. 

“He’s had that grounding of getting up at half four in the morning and putting on work boots and getting covered in muck and concrete for 12 hours a day it’s always nice when the wee rough diamonds turn into a gem.”

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