It was a torrid afternoon for Hearts on Saturday. Suffering a defeat to arch-rivals Hibs for the first time in six years at Tynecastle, fans felt bitterly disappointed after the third Edinburgh derby of the season.
There wasn’t many positives to take from the game. Ahead of a crucial Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, it was hardly the ideal way to get prepared for the game. If there was anything to smile about after the game for the Jambos, it’s the performance of Bobby Burns.
The Northern Irishman signed for Craig Levein’s men in the summer from Glenavon, but was immediately loaned to Livingston. After returning to Tynecastle in January, Burns’ game time came from reserve matches.
An injury to Ben Garuccio has created a vacancy in the left-back position. 19-year old Burns stepped up to fill that void against the Hibees.
In his first start in maroon, in such a big game, Burns was one of Levein’s better players.
A start in the Scottish Cup semi-final is a must
It was a shock to see Burns in the starting line-up for the Edinburgh derby. He had played just 50 minutes of football in the league for Hearts. To throw him in at the deep end was a big gamble from Levein.
The unfortunate part for the 19-year old is that his two faults both resulted in Hibs scoring. He wasn’t tight enough to Hibs’ Daryl Horgan for the first goal and he couldn’t keep up with the Irishman for the second.
It wasn’t the perfect performance from the youngster, but there were clear positives in his performance. Burns remained composed on the ball and made himself strong in the tackle. His positioning was also decent, looking like he had a good awareness of his role on the park.
He’s a very raw talent, but overall, it was a decent performance from Burns. The only way he can continue to develop is by getting a consistent run of games. With no natural left-back option at Tynecastle, Burns showed that he can be the man to fill the gap in the final six or seven games of the season.
Saturday was a great learning curve for the 19-year old. He’ll learn from his errors and will continue to improve on the positives. His willingness to go forward and ability on the ball is promising, tidying up the defensive side of his game could see him become a Hearts mainstay in the coming years.
He’s raw but Burns is a promising youngster. Levein has to keep the faith in his deputy left-back and give him the gametime he needs. That starts with a semi-final start next weekend.