MK Dons have joined Inverness in the race to sign Scotland under-21 internationalist Calum Elliot. The young striker has had a tough time at Tynecastle over the last year or so, being subject to abuse from sections of the Hearts support after to a string of poor performances.
Inverness manager Craig Brewster has already had a loan bid rejected by Hearts, apparently for not offering to pay a high enough percentage of Elliot’s wages. Recently promoted, MK Dons now look favourites to sign the player, who has scored 10 goals in 77 first team appearances.
A Hearts spokesman told the Scotsman newspaper œwe are aware of interest from a number of clubs and MK Dons is one of them. As a Scotland under-21 international, Calum will be a valuable addition to another club and we will do what we can to create opportunities for him to develop his career.
After breaking into the side at just 19 years of age during the 2005/06 season, when Hearts won the cup and finished 2nd in the league to Celtic, Elliot looked an exciting prospect. He found himself backup to Edgaras Jankauskas and Roman Bednar during that season, with third choice striker Michael Pospisil struggling with injury for most of the season. He managed 5 goals in 17 league starts and won SPL Young Player of the Month during that campaign.
Elliot has made no secret of his intention to leave Hearts and both he and the Hearts support must be wondering a loan spell will be of any benefit at all. During his previous loan spell, at Motherwell for six months at the beginning of the 2006/07 SPL campaign, he scored twice in seventeen appearances and failed to make much of an impact. Since his return he seems half the player he once was.
His poor performances over the last season have led to a tonne of abuse form the Hearts support. Some of this has obviously got to him and he looks visibly nervous when he plays now. When he receives the ball you can feel the anxiety from the crowd in anticipation of a blunder. When one of these inevitable mistakes come the support are on his back straight away and this makes him even more nervous.
It is a shame to see such a young player get so much abuse in a team that is not performing well over all. Sometimes the abuse he received was directed at him but the frustration was coming from elsewhere. Had he been a blundering kid in a team playing well and sitting near the top of the league, many would look the other way. However, for much of last season the club were sitting in the bottom half of the league and the support were angry at the way the club was being run.
I am not defending Elliot’s performances from last season, he was terrible; and the fact that he let the criticism get to him rather than stay mentally strong and prove everyone wrong shows a lack of professionalism. However, I don’t think it is entirely his fault. When he was loaned to Motherwell, he was considered one for the future and Hearts were in a strong position and playing good football. When Elliot returned, Hearts were beginning their slow decline and he was expected to make more of an impact.
Maybe Hearts shouldn’t have loaned him out in the first place, this possibly disrupted his development. Whether this time will be different is anyone’s guess but a fresh start is exactly what Elliot needs and England would be the better option and a good experience. Personally I was surprised when I heard he was leaving on loan. I believed he wanted out permanently and also thought that this would be best for him. But if he makes this next loan spell a success, I would like to see him back at Tynecastle in a better Hearts team.