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1 of 030 Bruno Aguiar 32 L SPL H

Calum's chance to stand tall at Hearts

JUST over three years ago, Calum Elliot had everyone slapping him on the back after an eye-catching performance against Celtic. The Hearts manager at the time, Graham Rix, said that he felt the 18-year-old was "head and shoulders above anyone on the pitch" that day.
On Saturday, Hearts fans will be hoping to hear current boss Csaba Laszlo heaping similar praise on Elliot for his latest display against the same opponents, the young striker's eventful career having taken a fresh twist following his superb double s trike in the weekend win over Kilmarnock.

The display that had Rix raving – the Tynecastle side lost a thrilling encounter 3-2 after being 2-0 up – came in the middle of a ten-game spell that saw Elliot score six times for Hearts, the youngster looking set for stardom in the SPL at that point in his career.

Six months later, however, he found himself bundled off to Motherwell on a six-month loan and, instead of giving him a new lease of life, that move appeared to have a somewhat damaging effect on the youngster.

Elliot played 19 times for Motherwell, scoring twice, but he didn't exactly make himself popular with the Fir Park faithful after appearing to have a moan about how difficult it was for him to travel back and forward from Edinburgh to Lanarkshire.

After returning to Tynecastle, Elliot was unable to reproduce the form that had so impressed Rix and his coaching staff, with Valdas Ivanauskas and Stephen Frail both subsequently being unable to get the very best out of the Edinburgh-born player.

Earlier this season, Elliot was farmed out once again by Hearts, his destination on this occasion being Livingston, where, by the looks of things, he's finally regained the confidence many believed he badly needed to kick-start his career.

He scored 11 goals in 14 games for the Almondvale side prior to Christmas and, back in a Hearts jersey, those two goals against Kilmarnock came hot on the heels of him making a big impact as a substitute in the 2-2 draw against Rangers at Ibrox.

Former Hearts coach Paul Hegarty was assistant to Maurice Malpas when Elliot was on loan at Motherwell before working with the player again for part of his spell at Livingston, where Hegarty is now the manager.

"I'm really pleased to see Calum doing well again for Hearts because he's a nice kid and also a very conscientious young man," said the former Dundee United defender. "When he was at Motherwell, I think he found it quite difficult because he didn't feel he was contributing as much as he would have liked to the team.

"He made some comments about his travelling arrangements which didn't exactly go down well with some people but, in fairness to him, I think that was just a case of frustration creeping in.

"I was delighted to get the chance to work with him again at Livingston and he was exceptional for us. I wanted to keep him because, after scoring 11 goals for us, his confidence was high and I could see him scoring a lot more in the First Division.

"He's a Hearts player, though, and when they said they wanted him back, I knew they were getting a player who could be pretty useful for them due to the confidence he had gained at Almondvale."

Now Hegarty would love to see Elliot getting a run of games in the first team at Tynecastle, starting with Saturday's mouth-watering clash with the SPL leaders.

"Calum is the type of player who needs a run of games to keep his confidence up and, though he'll face a difficult task against the likes of Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus, I'm sure it would be a challenge he'd relish," added Hegarty.

"The second of his goals against Kilmarnock was different class. He took it early, getting across the defender to get to the ball first and, even by anyone's standards, it was a quality finish."

As they say, one swallow doesn't make a summer but, on the evidence of last Saturday, Elliot could be about to ignite his Hearts career and, once and for all, banish the memories of being booed by fans when he'd come on as a substitute.

He earned a well-deserved standing ovation from those same fans last weekend and how Hearts would love to see Elliot being "head and shoulders above anyone on the pitch" this Saturday.

Taken from the Scotsman

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