First Team

"I took my chance"

25th August 2014

"I took my chance" James Keatings grabs starting opportunity with both hands as he nets brilliant hat-trick in Saturday's rout of Raith Rovers.

James Keatings admits the success of the team will always outweigh personal glory, as he enjoyed the aftermath of his first goals as a Heart of Midlothian player.

The ex-Celtic striker made his first league start for the club and introduced himself to the Hearts supporters with a bang as he notched a superb hat-trick in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Raith Rovers in Kirkcaldy.

Chatting trackside at Stark's Park, the pint-sized poacher revealed his treble was the first he'd scored since stepping up to first team football from Celtic's highly rated youth setup, although he conceded the three points were the most valuable thing he could take away from the match.

"I'm obviously delighted most importantly with the win, that's the crucial thing," said James. "To get a hat-trick is a bonus, especially when it's my first professional hat-trick. I've had a few at Celtic in the youths but that's my first real one, so it's great, but the win is better."

The summer signing from Hamilton Accies had been in and around the fringes of the side as he suffered through a stop-start pre-season, thanks to a succession of niggling injuries. With these setbacks hopefully behind him, Keatings admitted the suspension of Osman Sow had given him an opportunity he might not have gotten yet.

He also had some words of praise for the rest of his teammates, in particular his two companions manning the flanks either side of him in his favoured centre forward position.

"With Osman getting suspended, the gaffer's given me my chance today. I tried to get on the end of a few balls around the box, and finish off some chances. That's the kind of thing I do, that's what I love doing, I love scoring goals."

"The two wingers (Billy King and Sam Nicholson) are magic on the ball, they really are. They provide lots of service, so I got tons of help from those two today. The entire midfield was great. The defence was solid. There's so much talent in the side, we've got a really strong team and we're aiming to get stronger."

When asked the question about making way from the team when Sow returns from suspension, James was bullish in his response, recognising that head coach Robbie Neilson might have a difficult decision on his hands, but confirming he would accept whatever outcome the gaffer decided upon.

"Obviously, the manager picks the side and I'll respect his wishes totally. If he leaves me in the side, then that's great. If I'm not in the side, I'll bide my time like I've been doing and work even harder to get back in, so when the opportunity comes I'll be able to take it like I did today."