After a wonderful return to action against St Mirren, Ryan Hardie must have thought he was a shoe-in for a Livingston start against Aberdeen.
It was quite the opposite however, with Livi boss Gary Holt opting for Bobby Burns and Dolly Menga as his strike partnership. His cool finish against the Buddies last Saturday proved what he can bring to this Livi side, and he could be the Lions’ go-to goalscorer.
Hardie has spent a lengthy amount of time on the sidelines, but it was still puzzling for many when he never got off the bench on Tuesday night. You can’t rush him back, but he could have made the impact at Pittodrie, considering the game was at 2-2 for the majority of the second half.
If Livi are to beat their Lothian rivals Hearts on Friday night, they will need Hardie to contribute to the team.
Hardie can make the difference
Against Aberdeen, you can see what Holt was thinking. His side had done well to level the game, so it was time to hold on for a point. They would have got away with it had it not been for Lewis Ferguson’s overhead kick in injury time.
Holt did, however, introduce attacking options in the second half. Steven Lawless and youngster Jack Hamilton both featured, as Livi looked to hit the Dons on the counter. So why wasn’t Hardie involved?
Hardie has the potential to become a proven goalscorer, despite his tender years. Last season he scored eight goals in 15 starts in the Championship for Livingston. Whilst his injury hasn’t helped his cause, he has to be given the nod for the visit of the Jambos.
The 21-year old isn’t the quickest, or the tallest, but Hardie knows where to be at the right time. These instincts will be vital against a team like Hearts, who will not give up chances easily. Menga has been Livingston’s main man in attack so far this season, but with Hardie up top alongside him, they could create a deadly partnership.
Tuesday will have been disappointing for the 21-year old, more so because his adopted side went on to lose 3-2. The Rangers loanee will be hoping, however, he can make the difference against Hearts on Friday.