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Keatings has goals teased out of him

James Keatings had a companion on the bus back from Kirkcaldy on Saturday.

This refers at first to the match ball which the Hearts forward was obliged to stow in his bag as a reward for his hat trick against Raith Rovers, but also Brad McKay. The defender had teased his team-mate all the way to Fife and had plenty to say on the journey home too.

Keatings had been "nervous", he said. The 22-year-old had rejected the offer of a contract extension at Hamilton Academical but had still to make an impression at Tynecastle this season. He had started in only one competitive match before the weekend - a 4-1 defeat by Livingston.

That had given McKay enough material to fill his time on the way to Fife; Keatings was teased for looking anxious, for worrying about making the most of his big chance, a league start against Raith. It almost passed him by that McKay had also predicted his new team-mate to score.

"I had a wee joke with James on the bus. I was calling him the nervous man," said the Hearts defender, whose side face Stenhousemuir in the League Cup this evening. "I was winding him up, saying: 'you're nervous about today'. But I told him he would score. He scored three."

Keatings might expect to get the chance to register a few more tonight, with Stenhousemuir having lost five goals to SPFL League 1 rivals Stirling Albion at the weekend. Not everyone is concerned about a repeat, though.

"This is a great game to have so soon after the disappointment of Saturday as there will be no issues in lifting anyone," said Scott Booth, the Stenhousemuir manager. "There was lots of good stuff in the game against Stirling and we need to build on that against Hearts."

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