Hearts young guns in town
Top versus bottom on Saturday, but don't be fooled by this. With Hearts being penalised from the start of the season, they are in a slightly false position and are doing their damndest to steer clear of relegation. Give Hearts their fifteen points back and they would be level with Celtic and St Johnstone, so no place for complacency against the youthful Jambos.
Ginger Jaggy has been looking into this fixture to produce this preview for you................
With four games gone Caley Thistle sit proudly on top of the SPFL Premiership table but face arguably the greatest threat to our unbeaten start this weekend. This Saturday will see a maroon invasion as the kids of Hearts try to continue Mission Impossible which is certainly right on track. From a deficit of -15 the Jambos after last week’s battling 2-1 win over a fancied Aberdeen team has the likes of St Mirren, Kilmarnock and County looking over their shoulders on -8.
So far Terry has only used two of his new players and so the starting eleven has a very familiar look to it. Dean Brill has continued where Antonio Reguero left off and apart from 2 goals in Glasgow last week has looked unbeatable between the posts. Of course he has been helped by having a back four that flourished so well last season and keeping the structure of Raven, Warren, Meekings and Shinnie has reaped great dividends. Midfield is similar but everyone wondered how we would fare without Andy Shinnie, but he has been brilliantly replaced by James Vincent. Aaron Doran has become the main playmaker and he still creates goals just like he did last season but more importantly he has started getting goals to add to his vital contribution he brings to the team. But with more faces on the bench Terry has options this year giving us all a feeling that this season may just be even better than last season.
Our opponents couldn’t be further from our cloud nine feeling as the distinct threat of losing the football club still looms very large. The fans have backed the club fantastically with sell outs against Aberdeen and Hibs while taking a large following to Perth and to Firhill against Partick. With the predicament they are in and an excellent gesture from our football club it looks like the away stand will look pretty full. The club has kindly offered to donate £5 for every ticket over the average attendance of 650 to the supporters fighting fund. It is a win/win situation with more hearts fans making money for their own cause but also adding to the home coffers with a larger attendance. In fact look out for some Watford supporting Caley Thistle fans in the home end to see how we roll up North.
Everything seems to be against the capital side with a transfer embargo stopping them buying players until next summer (if they make it out of administration) meaning they can’t strengthen to fight relegation in January and of course have a -15 points disadvantage. But the clouds are parting with the Foundation of Hearts being given preferred bidder status and with that momentum the kids are going off like Usain Bolt in 100M race. Defeat to St Johnstone was tight but then wins over Hibs and Aberdeen plus a late equaliser at Partick has the gap now down to under 3 wins. So for fans expecting us to cash in on Hearts misery, we need to be wary of the wounded beast that makes Hearts more dangerous than ever.
Usually I do a head to head comparison between the two teams but due to Hearts predicament it won’t come in to play with the squad being so different. Instead I will give you a brief fact file on some the kids. Hearts skipper is Danny Wilson who will be suspended after a strange outburst involving sheep in the tunnel last Saturday. So I expect the key trio will be Jamie Walker, Jason Holt and Callum Paterson who are excellent talents that will give the Jambos an attacking threat. Holt plays in the Andrew Shinnie role and is already being courted by Nottingham Forest. He can score goals and is the teams most creative asset playing between the lines. Jamie walker is an outstanding talent who has pace and trickery on the flanks and an eye for scoring wonder goals with two long range strikes already this season. Finally Callum Paterson may not be the most natural of forward players but his header against Hibs and the help he is receiving from club legend and former Inverness boss John Robertson means he can’t be underestimated. Along with Wilson, Kevin McHattie is also suspended and Ryan Stevenson is out long term. Mark Ridgers will deputise if Jamie MacDonald fails a fitness test.
Inverness have one injury concern, Marley Watkins is out injured for a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. Apart from that, the continuity will carry on and Butcher should be fielding an unchanged side once more.
I expect the three points to stay in the Highland capital on Saturday but it won’t be easy. Both clubs have momentum at the start of the season but Inverness being more experienced and with the very small and youthful Hearts squad being taken all the way by Raith in the league cup it may be difficult for them to recover properly. I predict a hard fought 2-0 win in the end with Foran and McKay netting the goals.