Newcastle United teenager Garang Kuol made his first start for Hearts on Wednesday night, but it was an evening to forget for the 18-year-old.
The forward arrived on Tyneside at the beginning of last month, and was then loaned out almost immediately. He signed a deal with Scottish Premiership side Hearts until the end of the season.
A move north of the border looks like a good option, as it gives him the chance to play alongside some fellow Australians who he knows from representing his country.
Kuol had been limited to substitute appearances until last night, but was named in the Hearts starting XI for the clash with Rangers.
Sadly for Robbie Neilson’s side, they were beaten 3-0 at home by the Gers. It was a tough night for the Jam Tarts, and it was an especially tough night for Kuol.
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Garang Kuol plays out of position on first Hearts start
Throughout his short career, Kuol has been deployed as a forward, either as a striker or out wide. However, that changed on Wednesday night.
Neilson started Kuol as one of his three centre-midfielders, which was quite the baptism of fire for his first ever start outside of Australia.
It looked like a really strange decision, and it was one that backfired in a big way. The loanee massively struggled, and was taken off at half time.
While there was a lot of appreciation that Kuol was out of position, he did receive a lot of criticism for his performance from the Scottish press.
Kuol ‘completely dominated’ by Rangers
The Edinburgh Evening News gave him a 4/10 for his performance, and stated that the game ‘passed the teenager by for the most part’.
Edinburgh Live were less scathing with a rating of 5/10, but also believed Kuol was ‘completely over-run in midfield’.
The Scotsman only gave Kuol a 3/10 rating for his performance, and stated that Neilson made the ‘wrong choice’ to put him in centre-midfield. They wrote that he was ‘completely dominated’ by Rangers before being ‘unsurprisingly’ subbed off at half time.
Tough night for Newcastle teenager
It was an awful night for Kuol, and hopefully it is the last time he plays in the middle of the park. It clearly isn’t his game. The lad was always going to get dominated by the more experienced opposition.
His biggest attribute is his speed and dribbling ability, and it is a big reason why he is one of the most exciting young talents in world football today.
Kuol has made three appearances for Hearts so far, and is yet to show the form that earned him a move to Newcastle. But it is still early days, and there is clearly a lot more to come from him. But this has to be the one and only occasion he is played out of position, otherwise this loan could be a complete waste of time.