Aidan Denholm is intent on forcing his way back into the Hearts team after being rewarded with a contract extension until 2026.
The 19-year-old was released by the Jambos at the end of last season but boss Steven Naismith quickly moved to reverse the decision by handing the midfielder a one-year deal in the summer.
Denholm then shot to prominence with a run of six appearances in August, including an accomplished display from the start in the stirring Europa Conference League victory over Rosenborg at Tynecastle.
The boyhood Hearts fan has been an unused substitute for the last four games but Naismith’s ongoing faith in the youngster was highlighted when he offered him a new long-term deal.
“As soon as I heard the news, it was something I wanted to get sorted straight away. It was all pretty straightforward,” Denholm said on Friday.
“It doesn’t quite top Rosenborg, but it was up there. Now it’s about getting my head down and trying to get back into the team, who have been doing well.
“I need that patience because my time will come. Right now, I just need to focus on supporting the boys. If my chance comes sooner than expected because of circumstance, whatever that may be, then I’ll be raring and ready to go.”
Denholm’s attitude has helped endear him to Naismith.
“The new contract for Aidan is a sign of the belief that I have in him,” said the manager ahead of Saturday’s cinch Premiership trip to Ross County.
“When I first came to the club as a player I trained with him quite a bit when he was a kid and he wasn’t the hottest prospect and the guy that stood out, but his attitude and willingness to listen stood out.
“It’s something I recognised from when I was a player. He could understand when he was in the first-team environment that the level was higher. I was demanding when I was a player and I let him know that but he was receptive to it, he didn’t shy away from it.
“His hard work has paid off. From signing the one-year deal in the summer to this, I think it’s gone much better than he would have expected. I’ve told him it’s not a straightforward upward curve and that’s the thing he’s got to manage and understand, and learn that even when he’s not in the team, it’s still a great environment to learn and get better.
“I’ve got real faith in him and hopefully he can keep developing.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country