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Steven Naismith described Barrie McKay as “a brilliant asset to have” after he inspired Hearts to a 3-0 victory over Dundee that ensured they will finish with their highest Premiership points tally in 18 years.

The 29-year-old playmaker has endured an injury-disrupted campaign but he marked only his second start of 2024 by laying on goals for Kenneth Vargas and Alan Forrest before newly-crowned PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year Lawrence Shankland sealed a comfortable win with his 29th strike of the season in stoppage time.

Naismith expects McKay to be a big player for Hearts next term.

“He’s a brilliant asset to have,” said Naismith.

“Baz isn’t fit, you can see that, he’s had a long time out, but he’s got unbelievable quality. He was good at managing himself within that game and lasting 80 minutes.

“He started against Livingston (last month) and came up with some big moments and today his quality was good again. What we get out of him this season is a bonus, but he’ll be really important next season.

“It’s always tough for players coming back. When you miss a big chunk of the season everybody is at their peak and you’re trying to cling on to get there, I’ve been there myself.

“We’ll not see him at his prime, best condition until after pre-season but he’s still contributing in these games when he’s not 100 per cent, so that shows you the quality he’s got.”

Hearts went into the match already assured of third place and a return to European group-stage football next term, and the win over Dundee took them on to 66 points, ensuring they will finish with their highest tally since the memorable 2005/06 campaign when they hit 74.

“That is a good measure of us, but I want to get to 70,” said Naismith.

“It’s a realistic goal, it’s something we can do. It shows the drive the squad’s got that we put on the performance we did today to get the three points.”

Dundee boss Tony Docherty was pleased with his team’s performance but aggrieved that referee Nick Walsh did not stick with his initial decision to award the Dark Blues a penalty while they trailed 1-0 after Lyall Cameron’s shot appeared to strike Stephen Kingsley’s elbow. The official changed his mind after a VAR review.

“I don’t think it is a 3-0 game,” he said. “We went toe-to-toe with them but I think we made two mistakes.

“To me the pivotal moment in the game was the decision not to give the penalty kick. I’m perplexed at that.

“If you look at the fixture against Hearts at Dens (in February), there is an identical situation where the ball strikes Lee Ashcroft on the hand and that penalty is given.

“That’s where the frustration comes from.”