Scottish Premiership - Nicholson: Hearts role is a dream

Sam Nicholson admits it is "weird" being on the same Tynecastle pitch where he used to watch his Hearts heroes perform.

The boyhood Jambos fan joined the club at 12 and worked his way through the age groups at their youth academy.

The midfielder, however, found himself making an earlier than expected impact at first-team level this season following the club's descent into administration which brought a 15-point deduction and a signings embargo.

Nicholson, now 18, made his debut as substitute against Inverness in August and started for the first time against the Highlanders last month.

Ahead of the visit of Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday, he said: "I used to go the games at Tynecastle when I was a wee boy and to be one of the players on the pitch is a weird feeling but a good feeling. A dream come true.

"It has been brilliant. Being at such a young age, I am happy at getting in the squad.

"I didn't expect to break through until a later age but I suppose I am lucky I am getting my chance and I hope I can take it."

Boss Gary Locke has been working with a threadbare and predominantly young squad this season which means Nicholson is taking advice from some players who are not much older than himself.

"Players like Jamie Walker and Callum Tapping are still quite young," he said.

Indeed both are just 20 years old, and Nicholson said: "They will become the experienced players but it is good even now that they are helping me, even though they haven't played much.

"That is what we have to deal with.

"But it is good advice, the same advice you are getting from the older players. It is helping us and we are all helping each other.

"A lot of the young boys are grateful for the chance we are getting and we are hoping when we get on the pitch we take it.

"It is obviously hard because we are not used to the standard, but the more times we get on, the more used to the standard we will get.

"I think it will benefit us in the long term."

Locke will once again struggle to name seven substitutes due to injury and illness but Nicholson and his fellow youngsters are treating that situation as a positive.

"It can be a bonus for the players who are on the bench who are wanting to get on," he said.

"Billy King, Adam King, Dale Carrick, we are obviously wanting to get on and with less players on the bench there is more of a chance."