Latest NewsScotland

Steven Naismith always wanted to return to Hearts this season

By July 6, 2018No Comments

Steven Naismith admits his return to Hearts was never in doubt after signing a season-long loan deal.

The forward spent the final six months of last term on loan at Tynecastle and was a priority target for manager Craig Levein this summer.

Naismith is out of favour at Norwich and out of contract at the end of the next campaign, but he was delighted to seal a return to Edinburgh, over seven weeks after his previous spell ended.

“It was an easy decision (to return),” he told HeartsTV. “It was more about when we were getting it done, rather than if, which is pleasing.

“It feels great to be a Hearts player once again. I’m glad it all got sorted sooner rather than later.

“The uncertainty over the summer isn’t enjoyable as a footballer.

“All round, all parties did what they could to get it done as quickly as possible and I’m delighted to start work.”

The Scotland international joined up with the squad for their pre-season training camp at St Andrews, but it is a different group of players to the one he made 16 appearances for last term.

Levein has been very active in the summer transfer market, with Naismith the 11th arrival already and the prospect of more on the horizon, and the 31-year-old thinks the turnover in players will help performances.

Hearts’ season was punctuated by a succession of long-term injuries, forcing Levein into fielding a host of youngsters and while some of them impressed, played more than he would have liked.

“With the amount of new faces, the one thing straight away that it does is gives you an older squad which will inevitably bring more consistency and competition for places,” said Naismith.

“That’s probably the biggest thing that was missing last season.

“When there were a few injuries, the competition for places, you were relying on guys trying to find their feet in first-team football.

“Last season was one that probably progression was the predominant word in terms of the club moving forward.

“Now it’s about pushing the teams above us.

“If you look where we finished (sixth), we have to improve on that and in the cup competitions do better than we did.”