Steven Naismith revealed he is hopeful of tying down Alan Forrest on a new contract after seeing the winger become “a big player” for Hearts.
The 27-year-old joined from Livingston on a two-year deal in the summer of 2022.
Naismith has been pleased with Forrest’s form recently and felt he was the best player on the pitch in Tuesday’s 2-1 win away to his former club.
The former Ayr attacker won a penalty, which was missed by Lawrence Shankland, and then set up the two goals for Kenneth Vargas and Shankland.
“For me, Al was man of the match,” said manager Naismith. “He’s somebody who has had to be patient but he’s got really good attributes.
“I’ve questioned his big moments – can we get them more consistent? He’s worked as hard as anybody in the squad to make sure he gets his opportunity and he’s done it.
“Hopefully he will sign a new contract soon. He’s a big player for us.”
Another attacking player to come to the fore for Hearts recently is Vargas, who made it two goals in two games on Tuesday after scoring only once in his previous 22 matches for the Jambos.
Naismith is pleased with the composure he has shown for his strikes against Ross County and Livingston.
“Kenneth is someone who has suffered from being used a lot, he’s done a lot of hard yards that nobody enjoys or appreciates,” said Naismith.
“People have probably expected a bit more. He’s got real quality, he’s impacted the last two games.
“You can teach someone to be a bit better at finishing but when it’s about needing that calmness when you’re through on goal – you see so many going through and hitting the keeper or putting it wide – he’s got that calmness.
“He’s got an understanding of how to use his body. He’s still young, he’s inexperienced, he’s inconsistent but he will be a really good player.”
Vargas, 21, is currently on a season-long loan from Costa Rican club Herediano, with Hearts having an option to purchase the attacker. Naismith is open to making the deal permanent.
“The way the deal’s structured there is no rush,” said the Hearts boss. “We are constantly talking to his representatives and the club he has come from and everyone is comfortable with the situation.
“At the moment I think he is a really good prospect and someone we need to look at potentially keeping, but it needs to be right.”