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In-form Keena set for Hearts first team chance

Story by Paul Hughes

Wednesday, 21st March, 2018 12:06pm

In-form Keena set for Hearts first team chance

Aidan Keena netting for Queen's Park against Stranraer last weekend. PHOTO:

Mullingar man Aidan Keena is set for promotion to Scottish Premier League side Hearts’ first team next summer, after once again making the SPFL’s team of the week.

The talented Republic of Ireland U19 international has been on a rich vein of form ever since landing in Scotland last autumn, scoring a hatful of goals for Hearts’ U20s before embarking on a loan move to Glasgow-based side Queen’s Park earlier this year.

Keena has scored seven goals in eight games for the Spiders, his latest contribution a brace in the Hampden Park-based club’s SPFL League One clash against Stranraer last weekend.

The former Mullingar Athletic, Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic forward made headlines in Scotland recently, after scoring a memorable goal against Alloa Athletic. Keena, not far from the halfway line, spotted Alloa ‘keeper Neil Parry off his line and pulled off an audacious lob.

In the meantime, the former Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar student remains available for selection for Heart U20s, and scored a dramatic injury-time winner against Dundee United recently, keeping the Wee Jambos in the top four of the SPFL U20 League.

Now, Hearts boss and former Scotland manager Craig Levein, who has been impressed with Keena’s form since his €10,000 move from St Pat’s last year, has given the 18-year-old a resounding vote of confidence ahead of his return to Tynecastle in June.

“All the reports I’ve been getting have been excellent. I’m pleased he’s managed to get some goals,” Levein told the Edinburgh Evening News yesterday.

“Hopefully this loan spell will push him on and make him ready to compete in the summer. It gives us another player for the first-team squad.

“Aidan was playing for St Pat’s reserves and the initial contact came last year through our coach, Jon Daly. We paid a little bit of money for him, about €10,000, but it seems to have been money well spent.

“With all younger players, they’re not what I’d consider to be an asset until they get into the first team and prove themselves.

“He’s doing well in training and he’s scoring goals, so fingers crossed that gives him the confidence to push for a place in the summer.”

Keena has so far made one senior appearance for Hearts, coming on as a sub in the Jambos’ 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle in November.


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