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Hearts forward Craig Wighton looking forward to facing former club Dundee as he admits enormous weight has been lifted from his shoulders this week

Craig Wighton scored hat-trick against Raith Rovers.
Craig Wighton scored hat-trick against Raith Rovers.

Hearts forward Craig Wighton admits an enormous weight has been lifted from his shoulders after finally breaking his frustrating goal duck.

Former Dundee star Wighton, 23, had failed to find the net in the two years and two months since joining the Jambos from the Dark Blues prior to Tuesday’s visit of Raith Rovers, albeit he had only made 24 appearances in that time.

And there was a visible sense of catharsis when he confidently slammed home his penalty to open the scoring against the Fifers.

While Rovers lamented the contentious award of the spot-kick, a relieved Wighton celebrated.

It would be no exaggeration to say Wighton looked a different player after that strike.

Within minutes he had turned Fernandy Mendy inside out and forced a super near-post save from Jamie MacDonald.

Another successfully converted penalty then followed, before Wighton ensured he would walk away with a match-ball to cherish with a sensational solo goal in the dying embers.

Craig Wighton in action for Dundee in 2018.

“It’s been frustrating for me at times here,” said Wighton.

“I think everybody knows that. But I’ve finally got off the mark and to get three – well, it’ll do me the world of good.

“That first Hearts goal has been on my mind. I’ve had a few chances to score since I’ve been here and I hadn’t done it, so hopefully I can really kick on now.”

Wighton has rarely displayed the swagger and confidence that his natural talent would seem to merit during his underwhelming spell at Hearts, not helped by becoming something of a target for disgruntled fans.

However, at an empty Tynecastle – one might suggest that dearth of baying punters will aid his progress – he was direct, tricky and clinical.

“I want to prove people wrong and I want to show the fans what I can do,” said Wighton.

“I’ve not really done that yet. But this is just a start.”

Wighton could start game against former club after midweek hat-trick.

Such was Wighton’s impact for a much-changed Hearts side, Robbie Neilson confessed that he had been given serious food for thought ahead of tomorrow’s Championship opener against Dundee.

A starting berth against Dundee would be a fitting reward for a striker who cut his teeth in Dark Blue after coming through the youth ranks at Dens, and who still commands cult hero status as the man who relegated Dundee United.

“A lot of my mates are Dundee fans – but everyone thinks Hearts are the favourites, and so we should be,” said Wighton.

“There’s only 27 games so it’s up to us to hit the ground running.”

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