{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hearts","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/gary-mackay-hearts-need-proven-goalscorer-or-creator-1-4340180","id":"1.4340180","articleHeadline": "Gary Mackay: Hearts need proven goalscorer – or creator","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484548200000 ,"articleLead": "

Since the transfer window opened, we’ve already seen four players leave Hearts and two come in.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340179.1484502511!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra, left, would enhance the Hearts defence"} ,"articleBody": "

I know there are still two weeks remaining, but I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that we need to get a few more bodies in before the transfer window closes in order to give us a chance of getting the most we possibly can from a campaign in which we still have plenty to play for.

In terms of arrivals, Christophe Berra would undoubtedly enhance the squad if Hearts could prise him from Ipswich Town. I have no idea how that would work financially, as Christophe would surely have to take a big cut in salary to come back to Tynecastle, but if he’s willing to do so, then he’d certainly improve our defence.

Of those who have already arrived, I don’t profess to know much about Lennard Sowah, but he’s been at some decent clubs. Left-back has been a problem position for us pretty much since Adam Eckersley left, so hopefully Sowah can be the man to finally make the role his own. I know some people have questioned the signing of Aaron Hughes because of his age, but when you’re in a transitional period like Hearts are, it makes sense to bring in a player of his experience and calibre to help steady the ship.

Thus far, the January window has been predominantly about outgoings. In terms of having a degree of continuity, the rapid rate at which players seem to have departed the club over the past year or two is a slight concern to me.

I was particularly surprised to see Igor Rossi depart. I understand that the move makes sense for Rossi and his family, but my thoughts are more predominantly with Heart of Midlothian, and in that regard, we have lost a pretty consistent defender who has played every week when fit over the past 18 months. That said, if Berra were to sign, he would fill the void in terms of being a left centre-back.

I think both Alim Ozturk and Juanma have something to offer but it wasn’t a great surprise that they cut ties with the club after falling out of favour latterly.

Amid the ongoing feeling of transition at the club since the change of head coach, I just hope the desire to meet the challenge that remains for this season isn’t being overtaken by a focus on next term because we can still finish in the top three and enjoy a Scottish Cup run in the coming months. Not much was broken when Robbie Neilson left less than two months ago, but, as things stand, we look desperately in need of new faces to freshen things up for the remainder of the campaign.

We certainly need to do something in the forward area. We either need a proven goalscorer or somebody who is a creator of chances, so that the strikers have more opportunities to score goals.

Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson are our two main creative forces, and one of them is currently out injured. I think from a fans’ perspective, we need someone – and it might be someone we’ve never heard of before – who can come in and excite us.

In the forward area, Bjorn Johnsen has kicked on a bit, and Robbie Muirhead has done well in flashes, but we really need someone who can assist Jamie, and Sam when he’s fit, in terms of giving a bit of creativity to our team. You can build from the back and create a solid team, but to win football matches regularly and get a hugely loyal support off their feet, we need people who are going to excite us.

A Scottish Cup run would certainly lift the support, and I’d like to think we have enough about us to get off to a positive start on that front by seeing off Raith Rovers on Sunday. There will be a bit of pressure on Hearts because our recent league form hasn’t been great, and also because the supporters are desperate for a cup run. But Raith are struggling badly at the moment so I’d be very disappointed if we can’t take care of them, even allowing for the fact we are not in great shape ourselves. The slight concern is that we are a bit rusty after the winter break, but I’d like to think that, with a 3000-strong travelling support, we can start on the front foot and go on to dominate a Raith team low on confidence.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340179.1484502511!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340179.1484502511!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christophe Berra, left, would enhance the Hearts defence","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra, left, would enhance the Hearts defence","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340179.1484502511!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-to-make-move-for-former-captain-christophe-berra-1-4340099","id":"1.4340099","articleHeadline": "Hearts to make move for former captain Christophe Berra","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484495937164 ,"articleLead": "Hearts will move to bring former captain Christophe Berra back to Tynecastle if he can secure his release from Ipswich Town.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340098.1484492594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra could return to Hearts if he leaves Ipswich Town"} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh club are amongst the favourites to re-sign the 31-year-old Scotland centre-back, who is currently trying to negotiate his exit from Portman Road.

Berra is interested in a return to Scotland with his formative club if terms can be finalised. However, a quick move depends on him agreeing a severance package to terminate the final six months of his Ipswich contract.

A pre-contract agreement with Hearts for next season is also a possibility should the English Championship side decide to keep him until his contract expires in the summer.

Igor Rossi's transfer to Al-Faisaly Harmah of Saudi Arabia on Friday night leaves Ian Cathro and the Hearts coaching staff short in defence. They are now waiting in the wings and will make their move the moment Berra becomes available.

With 34 Scotland caps and eight years experience in England, he is seen as a player who would offer leadership and guidance at the back alongside recent signing Aaron Hughes.

Berra came through the Hearts youth academy and was given his senior debut by Craig Levein, now the club's director of football, in 2003. He came club captain and eventually secured a £2.3million transfer to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2009.

He joined Ipswich in July 2013 but is now ready to end his time in England and return north.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4340098.1484492594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4340098.1484492594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christophe Berra could return to Hearts if he leaves Ipswich Town","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra could return to Hearts if he leaves Ipswich Town","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4340098.1484492594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-head-coach-cathro-tips-djoum-to-be-africa-star-1-4339058","id":"1.4339058","articleHeadline": "Hearts head coach Cathro tips Djoum to be Africa star","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484389142000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro admitted to mixed feelings at losing key Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum to Cameroon, but backed the player to star in the Africa Cup of Nations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339057.1484327172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Arnaud Djoum, left, and Faycal Rherras"} ,"articleBody": "

The tournament begins in Gabon today and Djoum is part of a 23-man Cameroon squad. They face Burkina Faso in Libreville in their opening group fixture this evening at 8pm (7pm UK time).

As a result, Djoum could miss several key matches for Hearts over the coming weeks. He will definitely be absent for next weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.

Should the Indomitable Lions progress to the knockout phase, he could still be unavailable for Hearts’ upcoming league fixtures against Celtic, Rangers and Motherwell.

Head coach Cathro is delighted to see the 27-year-old involved in such a prestigious competition and expects him to shine amongst Africa’s best.

However, he conceded he is a difficult man to replace in the club’s midfield. “I think he’ll do well over there,” said Cathro.

“I’ll be keeping in touch, watching his games and wishing him well. I hope he stays safe and returns to us maybe with another little bit of motivation to push hard for the second half of the season.

“Naturally, there are mixed feelings on it. Arnaud is a player I don’t want to be missing. He has shown great work and really good qualities so far. I’m excited to see more from him and see how he can improve even more, which I really believe he will here.

“At the same time, I do understand the importance for players to go and represent their country in this tournament. It’s a really good opportunity for him so I’m really pleased for him.

“Hearts want, and I want, to have really good players at the club. This is one of the offshoots of having really good players. They get called up for international duty. I’d much rather this was the case than us not having these guys.”

Faycal Rherras received a late call-up to the Morocco squad on Thursday, although the defender, who has been in and out of the Hearts team in recent games, is unlikely to be missed as significantly as first-choice attacking midfielder Djoum, especially since Cathro moved to recruit left-back Lennard Sowah earlier this week.

Cameroon are in Group A alongside hosts Gabon, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau, while Morocco are in Group C with Ivory Coast, DR Congo and Togo.

Hearts fans keen to monitor the progress of Djoum and Rherras can watch all Africa Cup of Nations matches live on British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339057.1484327172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339057.1484327172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Arnaud Djoum, left, and Faycal Rherras","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Arnaud Djoum, left, and Faycal Rherras","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339057.1484327172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/maroon-memories-skacel-his-phenomenal-hat-trick-1-4337261","id":"1.4337261","articleHeadline": "Maroon memories: Skacel his phenomenal hat-trick","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484375400000 ,"articleLead": "

RUDI SKACEL’S phenomenal hat-trick helped ten-man Hearts accelerate to third place in the Scottish Premier League as St Mirren were totally overwhelmed in an enthralling game at Tynecastle.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337260.1484380756!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rudi Skacel was simply unstoppable"} ,"articleBody": "

Marius Zaliukas was dismissed after scoring the opening goal and the visitors quickly built a 2-1 advantage through Paul McGowan’s penalty and Steven Thompson’s header. Then Skacel took over with three stunning efforts, all struck from more than 20 yards, before John Sutton completed the scoring in the final minute.

Hearts’ players displayed unquenchable spirit to recover from Zaliukas’ red card and the 2-1 deficit. Once in front, they became rampant. Hearts opened the scoring after only 51 seconds of play. Ian Black’s corner arrived for the onrushing Zaliukas to head powerfully beyond Craig Samson. St Mirren’s marking was utterly atrocious but that was of little concern to the buoyant home side.

Zaliukas went from hero to villain inside 11 minutes by conceding a penalty and earning an instant red card for denying McGowan a clear goalscoring opportunity. McGowan calmly drove the penalty high to Marian Kello’s left to level the scores – then was booked for some inflammatory celebrations.

Facing a numerical disadvantage, Hearts looked disjointed and fell behind in the 18th minute when Thompson sprung high above the Pole to nod a looping header over Kello and into the net.

The game continued in frantic fashion when Hearts restored parity through Skacel’s first. The Czech dispossessed Graham Carey to dispatch a ferocious shot high into the St Mirren net from 25 yards.

Little changed in the second half, although it should be noted that both teams played plenty fluent, attractive football throughout this encounter. The ten men of Hearts showed their relentless work ethic to defend and attack in numbers and Stephen Elliott shot high from a central position on 54 minutes. Kello then beat Carey’s drive away to prevent a certain goal.

Just as it seemed they might be starting to tire, Hearts produced another goal. Or, more accurately, Skacel did. Sutton laid Jamie Hamill’s throw back to the Czech, again more than 20 yards out, for another trademark left-footed drive which angled away from Samson and nestled in the corner.

The decibel level rose another notch four minutes later when the irrepressible midfielder completed his hat-trick. Skacel evaded the persistent David Barron and, with another 20-odd yarder, slotted his finish out of Samson’s reach.

There was still time for a fifth from Sutton, who converted a free-kick laid into his path by Black’s after Samson picked up Tesselaar’s backpass. But by then there was little doubt over the destination of the three points.

Hearts: Kello; Hamill, Webster, Zaliukas, Barr; Robinison, Mrowiec, Black; Skacel; Sutton, Elliott.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hearts 5, St Mirren 2. January 14, 2012"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337260.1484380756!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337260.1484380756!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rudi Skacel was simply unstoppable","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rudi Skacel was simply unstoppable","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337260.1484380756!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/christian-nade-aims-to-silence-travelling-hibs-fans-1-4339345","id":"1.4339345","articleHeadline": "Christian Nade aims to silence travelling Hibs fans","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484375400000 ,"articleLead": "

Of the 32 goals Christian Nade has scored since first arriving in Scotland almost a decade ago, five have come against Hibs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339344.1484337272!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christian Nade will be hoping to put the boot in against Hibs today. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Remarkably, the Frenchman has netted in three of the last four matches he has started against the Easter Road side – twice for Raith Rovers in the 2014/15 season, and once for Dumbarton last term. All of those strikes played a part in denying Hibs victories in their previous bids to win promotion from the Championship.

The former Hearts striker makes no secret of the fact he loves doing the damage against the Leith team after being the subject of unflattering songs and jibes about his weight from their supporters ever since his time at Tynecastle when, by his own admission, he wasn’t in great shape. Nade’s lifestyle has changed significantly for the better in recent years, however, and the 32-year-old claims to be in the best condition of his life as he bids to prolong his football career for as long as he can.

In light of his past exploits against Hibs, it comes as little surprise that he is relishing the prospect of lining up for Dumbarton – whom he rejoined earlier this month – at home to Neil Lennon’s Championship leaders this afternoon.

“I look forward to every game but obviously I have great history with Hibs,” he told the Evening News.

“I feel the same playing against Hibs as I do playing against any other side but their fans seem to give me that extra boost sometimes. The criticism I get from them doesn’t hurt me. I laugh about it – it’s 
funny. The only way I can answer them is to score against them, so when I don’t score, I don’t feel good because it’s like they have beaten me. I have to score against them. It’s always good if I can also make the Hearts fans happy by scoring against them.”

Nade is hoping to pick up where he left off at Dumbarton during a successful spell early last year. The striker scored seven goals in just 14 appearances in the closing three months of last season and was touted for a move back into the full-time ranks. Nothing came to fruition, however, and he ended up signing for Stranraer in July in an ill-fated move which was terminated in November after the Frenchman suffered a breakdown in relationship with manager Brian Reid.

He kept himself ticking over with a couple of outings as a trialist for Annan Athletic in League Two, but is thrilled to be back at Dumbarton, working under Stevie Aitken, who has just been named the Championship’s manager of the month for December, during which they defeated Queen of the South, Falkirk and Dundee United in the league.

“Good question,” he laughs, ruefully, when asked why he didn’t stick around at Dumbarton last summer. “At that point, clubs were asking about me and my agent told me to take my time as it looked like there might be some good opportunities. I never said ‘no’ to Dumbarton, but they couldn’t wait too long for me to make a decision. They wanted to keep me on, but they needed to get players in and, in the end, I signed for Stranraer.

“I had a great time at Dumbarton last season and I wanted to feel that way again. I wanted to feel wanted, which I knew would be the case here. I want to enjoy my football again. It’s the same staff and coaches as when I was here before, and the boys are amazing. I hope to improve the team and help them do better than they did last season.”

Hibs have lost on two of their last three visits to Dumbarton and had to work hard to grind out a 1-0 win there back in August. Nade, who made his second debut for the club as a second-half sub in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Morton, insists his team are well equipped to ensure another difficult afternoon on the banks of the Clyde for the league leaders.

“Every game is a hard game, but we showed against Dundee United a couple of weeks ago what we are capable of,” he said. “At home, we are very strong. We will be a dangerous opponent for Hibs.”

Nade has played for six different Scottish teams over the past ten years – Hearts, Dundee, Raith Rovers, Hamilton Accies, Dumbarton and Stranraer. In addition, he had a spell signed to East Fife, where he didn’t play a game, and the aforementioned trial stint at Annan. This means he has experienced life at 20 per cent of Scotland’s senior teams – a scenario which no-one could have envisaged when he arrived at Hearts from Sheffield United as a burgeoning 23-year-old on transfer-deadline day of August 2007.

The Paris-born forward now considers himself part of the furniture here. “I love being in Scotland, I have been here a long time,” he said. “I don’t know the future, but I want to stay here a long time.”

n Russell McLean, the 18-year-old development team striker, has severed ties with Hearts and signed for Lowland League side East Kilbride.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339344.1484337272!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339344.1484337272!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christian Nade will be hoping to put the boot in against Hibs today. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christian Nade will be hoping to put the boot in against Hibs today. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339344.1484337272!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/defender-igor-rossi-quits-hearts-for-saudi-arabia-1-4339437","id":"1.4339437","articleHeadline": "Defender Igor Rossi quits Hearts for Saudi Arabia","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484345153000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts defender Igor Rossi has left the club to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly Harmah.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339436.1484346259!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Igor Rossi is leaving Hearts. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The deal, which is believed to be lucrative, is subject to a medical and international clearance.

Hearts, who will received an undisclosed fee, confirmed the player’s departure on their website on Friday night.

A statement said: “Everyone at the club is sad to see Igor go but he was presented with an amazing opportunity for him and his family and once he had expressed his wish to grasp the opportunity, we obviously would not stand in his way.

“He goes with our thanks for his service to Heart of Midlothian FC.”

Rossi, 27, has been a consistent performer in the Hearts defence over the last two seasons, playing at left-back and centre-back.

The Brazilian joined the club in summer 2015 after a spell in Portugal with Maritimo.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4339436.1484346259!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4339436.1484346259!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Igor Rossi is leaving Hearts. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Igor Rossi is leaving Hearts. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4339436.1484346259!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/scott-robinson-loving-east-fife-but-wants-full-time-football-1-4337972","id":"1.4337972","articleHeadline": "Scott Robinson loving East Fife but wants full-time football","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484289041000 ,"articleLead": "

From Tynecastle to Rugby Park, then to East End Park and now Bayview. Scott Robinson’s descent through Scottish football has been steady.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337968.1484228119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Robinson is scoring vital goals as East Fife challenge for the play-offs"} ,"articleBody": "

The Evening News finds him playing part-time in League One with East Fife – “a setback” by his own admission – but enjoying himself enormously. He still harbours hope that he can return to full-time ranks.

He has purchased training poles, cones and markers to train full-time by himself through the week despite his club’s part-time status. It is that desire, allied to scoring goals from his preferred attacking midfield role, which give Robinson a genuine chance of moving back up the divisions.

It is startling to discover that he is still only 24. He seems to have been around longer than anyone since his Hearts debut in 2008 at the tender age of 16. He was released in July 2015 and spent a season at Kilmarnock before two games for Dunfermline as an amateur.

East Fife signed him last summer and he instantly became a key player. Three winning goals in his last four appearances for the Methil club exemplify his importance. The tenacious approach aimed at earning a move back to full-time football is paying off.

“I still train as if I was full-time,” says Robinson. “I train myself on a Monday and I make sure I’m doing a really hard session. East Fife train on a Tuesday and I take a Wednesday off because that’s what normally happened at the full-time clubs I was at anyway. East Fife train again on a Thursday and then I do a wee bit myself again on a Friday. That’s my normal week through to matchday on a Saturday.

“I bought myself some training poles and markers so I could work on my own. I do long-distance running and some shorter sprints. I mostly do that on a Monday, that’s a big day for me. You know me, I’m really hungry to do the best I can. I think I’ll have a problem if I lose that.

“I want to get back playing full-time so you’ve always got to have that desire – especially after a setback like I’ve had, dropping back to part-time football. My long-term aim is to get back full-time.”

To do so, Robinson feels he must address a perpetual myth: He is very much an attacking midfielder, not a defensive one.

“I’m now playing in my favourite position,” he continues. “Remember when I first broke in at Hearts and I was playing behind the striker? I’m now back to that and I’m loving it.

“I was never a defensive midfielder. I could do a job there and I did that when Hearts were in administration. Every interview I did, I always said I liked to get into the box and create. Playing in that defensive role, I was restricted. Now I’m playing in the more advanced role and, since I’ve been back from a groin injury, I’ve scored a couple of goals and got a couple of assists.”

He recalls why he ended up playing in the holding position. “John McGlynn and Gary Locke took over at Hearts and I did well in a couple of pre-season friendlies in that defensive role. I think they thought that was my position, but I didn’t think so. I never liked it there.

“I’ve always felt I’m better trying to get forward and put pressure on players high up the pitch. My game is about energy. I’m buzzing playing that role for East Fife and I’m starting to really enjoy it again.”

Are there regrets at going from boy wonder to outcast at Tynecastle? Robinson became the youngest player to make a competitive appearance for Hearts when he came on as substitute against Inverness just one month and 14 days after his 16th birthday.

“I wouldn’t say I have regrets as such. I played over 100 games for Hearts, won the Scottish Cup, played in a League Cup final and a couple of semi-finals,” he recalls. “I might not have done that if I wanted to play that more advanced position. At the time, Hearts didn’t have anyone to play that defensive role so I had to do it.

“If there was a regret, it would be that I’d like to have played further forward in the Hearts midfield. I think managers will now look at me and think I’m a defensive player. That’s just because they’ve seen me play there for Hearts but it’s not the case. I’m an attacking player. They won’t know that until I start doing well myself, scoring goals and making headlines. Maybe then they’ll notice.”

He is certainly doing his best to create awareness with his goals for East Fife, helping them push for a League One play-off spot. “Part-time football was quite a change to start with but you get used to it.

“I picked up a groin injury which set me back to start with but I think it’s fully sorted now, so I’m really enjoying it here. It can be a bit direct at times at this level, which is fine, so you need to play to the conditions and the pitch.

“We were second bottom but we’ve had six wins and a draw in our last seven games. We’re now sixth and we can go joint-fourth into the play-off places if we win our game in hand.”

It has been quite the start for new manager Barry Smith, who succeeded Gary Naysmith when he joined Queen of the South last month.

“Just before Gary Naysmith left, he had a meeting with us. He gave us a harsh talking-to,” says Robinson. “It was, ‘if you don’t get your act together, there’s going to be changes in January’. I was injured but I remember sitting at the meeting.

“He moved to Queen of the South the next week and since then we’ve gone on this run. We didn’t have a manager on the Saturday at Brechin but we sat down and said: ‘Look lads, we just have to be in this for each other because we don’t know who the new manager will be or when he will come in’. We said our aim was just to try and stay in the league.

“Now, if we keep going, we’re going to be in the play-offs. Things have changed dramatically just in the past few weeks. We’ve just taken off. Confidence is sky-high now.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337968.1484228119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337968.1484228119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Robinson is scoring vital goals as East Fife challenge for the play-offs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Robinson is scoring vital goals as East Fife challenge for the play-offs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337968.1484228119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337970.1484228121!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337970.1484228121!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Robinson was the youngest player to make a competitive appearance for Hearts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Robinson was the youngest player to make a competitive appearance for Hearts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337970.1484228121!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-defender-faycal-rherras-handed-late-afcon-call-up-1-4338244","id":"1.4338244","articleHeadline": "Hearts defender Faycal Rherras handed late AFCON call-up","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484239505000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts defender Faycal Rherras faces a frantic dash out of Edinburgh after a late call-up to Morocco’s Africa Cup of Nations squad.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338243.1484245415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Faycal Rherras has been called up by Morocco"} ,"articleBody": "

The full-back was omitted from the initial 23-man group, but Hearts officials were notified only today that he is wanted for the tournament – which starts tomorrow in Gabon.

Rherras trained at Riccarton this morning but was then told that Morocco wanted him to head to Africa immediately.

He was given permission to travel by his club but will now miss the Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers a week on Sunday. If Morocco reach the knockout phase, he may miss vital league games against Celtic, Rangers and Motherwell.

The call-up leaves him little time for travelling or acclimatisation. The Africa Cup of Nations group games start tomorrow, although Morocco are not in action until Monday night. They face DR Congo in their opening group match.

Rherras dropped out of the starting line-up at Hearts recently but is still held in high regard by his national association.

His Tynecastle team-mate Arnaud Djoum is already in Gabon as part of the Cameroon squad. They face Burkina Faso in their first group match tomorrow evening.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4338243.1484245415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4338243.1484245415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Faycal Rherras has been called up by Morocco","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Faycal Rherras has been called up by Morocco","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4338243.1484245415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/juanma-completes-move-from-hearts-to-japan-1-4337733","id":"1.4337733","articleHeadline": "Juanma completes move from Hearts to Japan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484220834977 ,"articleLead": "

Spanish striker Juanma Delgado has finalised a permanent move from Hearts to the Japanese club V-Varen Nagasaki.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337731.1484220935!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Juanma has completed his move to V-Varen Nagasaki in Japan."} ,"articleBody": "

The 26-year-old was in the middle of a season-long loan at UCAM Murcia in Spain, but that agreement has been terminated to let him head to the Far East. He has passed a medical and Hearts have agreed to let him leave for free after deeming him surplus to requirements.

The Edinburgh club handed Juanma a three-year contract when he arrived from Greek side Kalloni in June 2015. He scored 13 times in all competitions last season but fell out of favour under former head coach Robbie Neilson.

After six months on loan in his native Spain, the forward will now look to revitalise his career in Nagasaki.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337731.1484220935!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337731.1484220935!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Juanma has completed his move to V-Varen Nagasaki in Japan.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Juanma has completed his move to V-Varen Nagasaki in Japan.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337731.1484220935!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/callum-paterson-set-to-explore-hearts-contract-options-1-4337215","id":"1.4337215","articleHeadline": "Callum Paterson set to explore Hearts contract options","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484202627000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts will hold fresh talks with injured full-back Callum Paterson to see if he is willing to extend his contract.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337214.1484156668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson will undergo surgery on his knee next week"} ,"articleBody": "

The player and his representatives have agreed to delay discussions until after surgery on his knee, which is due to take place early next week.

Tynecastle officials want to give Paterson time to digest the news that he will miss nine to ten months of football after suffering cruciate and medial ligament damage to his left knee.

All concerned will assess results of the operation and then look at whether a new deal is feasible. Talks have been pencilled in to take place over the next few weeks.

Paterson, 22, had refused to extend his existing contract, which expires in June, because he wants to continue his career in England.

He is willing to discuss the prospect of remaining with his formative club after injury struck against Kilmarnock two weeks ago.

Hearts are keen to protect their investment in the 22-year-old, who came through their youth academy, is currently their joint-top goalscorer and a full Scotland internationalist.

They would have been due between £400,000 and £450,000 in training compensation if he left this summer on freedom of contract. Craig Levein, the club’s director of football, stated prior to the injury that Paterson wouldn’t be sold in the January transfer window for less than a seven-figure sum.

However, clubs like Wigan Athletic and Derby County, who had been eager to take him south, will now wait until he recovers fully from the knee operation.

That gives Hearts a chance to extend Paterson’s stay in Edinburgh in a move which would benefit both club and player.

One complication is that, under FIFA rules, Hearts’ training compensation fee only applies until the end of the season in which Paterson turns 23 – which is next season. Therefore, any new long-term deal would mean he could leave for absolutely nothing when it ends.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337214.1484156668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337214.1484156668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Callum Paterson will undergo surgery on his knee next week","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson will undergo surgery on his knee next week","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337214.1484156668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/new-hearts-contract-makes-sense-for-callum-paterson-1-4337134","id":"1.4337134","articleHeadline": "New Hearts contract makes sense for Callum Paterson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484202600000 ,"articleLead": "

Watching Callum Paterson collapse in a crumpled heap by the Tynecastle touchline two weeks ago, you could almost hear Craig Levein’s sigh of dejection from the directors’ box. Serious cruciate and medial ligament damage to the player’s left knee left all concerned devastated.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337132.1484148329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson will get the chance to discuss the prospect of staying at Hearts after suffering serious knee ligament damage"} ,"articleBody": "

The injury will cost Paterson nine to ten months of his rapidly prospering career. It also robs Hearts of a potential £1million sale this month. At the very least, director of football Levein and the club hierarchy will likely be denied a £400,000 development fee for their prize asset this summer. Paterson isn’t expected to be fit until September at the earliest, so leaving his formative club as planned in June when his contract expires would be a risky, if not crazy, strategy.

The ideal solution is obvious: Hearts officials, Paterson and his representatives gather round the negotiating table and thrash out an agreement to extend the 22-year-old’s contract. He had previously refused all such attempts, certain in his mind that his future lay in England. However, the landscape changed dramatically two days after Christmas with that horror moment against Kilmarnock.

An added complication is that Hearts are only entitled to development compensation for the Scotland full-back until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday – which is next season. A new, long-term deal would, therefore, mean he could leave for absolutely nothing when it ends.

For now, all parties have agreed to wait until after he has surgery on the injury next week. They will then reconvene to discuss whether a new contract to protect both player and club might be possible.

“I would like Callum to sign here longer on the back of what has happened,” stated the former Hearts defender Jimmy Sandison, a regular commentator on the club’s internet TV channel. “It would make sense to get round the table quickly because it is going to be an awkward period for him. All the bargaining power is on Hearts’ side now. They need to see how the op goes as well so I think it makes sense for him to stay where he is and move at a later date.

“Before his injury, he was a certainty to go. The big boys had been watching him and there would have been a couple of good offers. With this injury, they will now think, ‘hang on a minute,’ and step back a bit. That is really sad for Callum.

“I think he is a first-class player, I’ve said that many times. I tipped him many years ago to take over from Alan Hutton with Scotland and he proved me right, so I really feel bad for him. There is nothing worse than a big injury like that, at that moment in time, where he could have made a few quid and gone on to something.

“The medical team here will help him come back, I have no doubt about that. Hopefully they will get him back stronger. Where does go from here? I don’t know. Will one of the big boys take a gamble with an injury like that? I don’t know. I think it would make sense to stay here for at least another year and get himself back to where he was, rather than take the gamble. I don’t know if a club would take him with that injury. It’s a difficult one.

“It’s a horrible situation. If it was me I don’t know what I would do. I would probably stay with my parent club to try and get myself fit again. They’re the ones who are rehabbing him so, out of courtesy, I would probably stay for another year or so.

“A year isn’t the end of the world for him but this is the worst time in the world to get this injury.”

Levein told shareholders at Hearts’ AGM last month that Paterson would not be sold in January for less than a seven-figure sum. Attempts to convince him to stay had proven futile and there was a general acceptance that he was going.

“Both parties would have been pleased if he had left this month. Hearts would have received a decent amount of money and he would have been able to progress his career,” said Sandison. “That’s fine, there’s no point keeping players at a club they don’t want to be at. If they want to move on, if they want to chase the bigger bucks, that’s absolutely fine. So it came at the worst time.

“If I was going to have a stab at it, I think he should stay for another year, rehab, get himself back up to his levels again and I have no doubt clubs will come back in for him.”

Paterson has rightly needed time to digest this latest blow. Previous knee and shoulder injuries sidelined him for several weeks rather than months. This is new territory. He will know suitors in England aren’t going to offer him a move until he is fully rehabilitated.

“I don’t think you can start handing him a three or four-year deal and hope the injury will completely go. I think you’ve got to take a step back,” continued Sandison. “I wouldn’t be happy as a manager trying to buy Callum hoping he will come back. He might not. I hope he will and he probably will do but you just never know with these kind of things.

“I go back to Craig Levein. He had the same kind of injury as a player. There are all sorts of question marks that might just put big buyers off at the moment. They’ll be watching with interest so I think he would be better staying here for another year.

“If you want to go to a new club you want to be going in there feeling good about yourself. You don’t want to go in and head straight to the treatment table. You want to go in and set a wee marker down and say, ‘I’m a player here,’ and kick on with your own career.

“So it would be better for him to get back to his levels here, in a surrounding he is comfortable with, where he is well respected, where he is loved in a sense, and then ask the question again next year.”

Paterson’s misfortune not only denies Hearts an experienced international defender. He is also their joint-top scorer alongside Jamie Walker with ten goals so far this season. “I think he is a great defender as well as one of our top goalscorers,” added Sandison. “Liam Smith was always going to be his natural replacement and for me Liam is a wonderful right-back. When Callum went off against Kilmarnock and there was a free-kick for Hearts, Liam trotted over to the middle of the park and defended whereas Callum would have been in the box trying to win the header. So you miss that.

“The other side off that is you might get an Igor Rossi or a John Souttar thinking: ‘Hang on, if Paterson is not in the team I’ll go up.’ So somebody else might fill that wee bit of a void and become that goalscorer at set-pieces. We’ll see where that goes.”

Seeing where any prospective contract talks between Paterson and the Hearts hierarchy go over the coming weeks will be just as interesting.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337132.1484148329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337132.1484148329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Callum Paterson will get the chance to discuss the prospect of staying at Hearts after suffering serious knee ligament damage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson will get the chance to discuss the prospect of staying at Hearts after suffering serious knee ligament damage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337132.1484148329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337133.1484148332!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337133.1484148332!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jimmy Sandison, right, and John Robertson, centre, help too promote a Hearts Legends v Army Legends charity match at Oriam on Sunday, March 5","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jimmy Sandison, right, and John Robertson, centre, help too promote a Hearts Legends v Army Legends charity match at Oriam on Sunday, March 5","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337133.1484148332!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-sports-scientist-john-hill-joins-neilson-at-mk-dons-1-4337329","id":"1.4337329","articleHeadline": "Hearts sports scientist John Hill joins Neilson at MK Dons","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484159089000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts sports scientist John Hill has quit the club to join former manager Robbie Neilson at MK Dons.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337328.1484159038!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hill had been at Hearts since 2010"} ,"articleBody": "

Hill, who had been based at Riccarton since 2010, has taken the offer to follow Neilson and assistant coach Stevie Crawford from Edinburgh to Buckinghamshire. He started work at Stadium MK yesterday and said: “MK Dons is a fantastic club. I wanted to come down to England to progress my career and challenge myself in a new environment.

“The opportunity to work with Robbie and Stevie again was also a big factor for me – we have a good relationship and I believe that will help benefit the squad. Together, we enjoyed good success at Hearts by providing the squad with the best possible support and that is something I want to continue here so they can go and compete the way Robbie wants them to. I’m here to develop the players’ athletic potential which will hopefully help us get results on the field.”

Neilson told mkdons.com: “John has got a great pedigree – the work he has done speaks for itself.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4337328.1484159038!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4337328.1484159038!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Hill had been at Hearts since 2010","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hill had been at Hearts since 2010","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4337328.1484159038!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/more-friday-night-matches-announced-for-hibs-and-hearts-1-4336800","id":"1.4336800","articleHeadline": "More Friday night matches announced for Hibs and Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484148015000 ,"articleLead": "

HIBS will face Dundee United on a Friday night yet again after the latest live TV fixtures were announced.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336798.1484147954!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs and Dundee United will meet on a Friday for the third time this season. Pic: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

The Hibees, who thumped their Ladbrokes Championship rivals 3-0 at Easter Road five days ago, will travel to Tannadice on Friday, March 10 (7.45pm) for the final meeting of the season between the two teams. The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

It will be the third time the two have met on a Friday night, the Arabs winning 1-0 on their home turf last month.

Hearts face a 12.15pm kick-off against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday, March 18 (live on BT Sport) while the Jambos’ home clash against Celtic will now go ahead on Sunday, April 2 at 12.30pm (Sky Sports).

Ian Cathro’s men have also been handed a Friday night clash at Kilmarnock on April 14, (7.45pm – live on BT Sport).

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336798.1484147954!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336798.1484147954!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs and Dundee United will meet on a Friday for the third time this season. Pic: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs and Dundee United will meet on a Friday for the third time this season. Pic: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336798.1484147954!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336799.1484147965!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336799.1484147965!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts will meet Aberdeen at Pittodrie in a lunchtime kick-off","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts will meet Aberdeen at Pittodrie in a lunchtime kick-off","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336799.1484147965!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/alim-ozturk-i-ll-remember-the-good-times-at-hearts-1-4336122","id":"1.4336122","articleHeadline": "Alim Ozturk: I’ll remember the good times at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484116234000 ,"articleLead": "

Alim Ozturk has signed off from Hearts with a bank of happy memories, a heavy heart and a feeling of bewilderment over his remarkable fall from grace.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336120.1484057683!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alim Ozturk roars with delight after scoring a last-gasp 40-yard screamer against Hibs in 2014"} ,"articleBody": "

The towering centre-back brought to an end two-and--half years at Tynecastle when he signed for Turkish second division promotion hopefuls Boluspor on an 18-month contract last weekend. The departure of the Netherlands-born Turk came as little surprise to anyone given his rapid demise from key man and captain to persona non grata under former head coach Robbie Neilson in the early months of this season.

Despite the acrimonious ending to his time at Hearts, Ozturk is able to head to his new club with a positive impression of a stint in Scotland which will be best remembered by supporters for his 40-yard wonder strike in a 1-1 draw away to Hibs in October 2014.

“My first two years were excellent,” he told the Evening News. “I had a really good time. I enjoyed Edinburgh and I enjoyed Hearts for two years, and the fans were amazing to me. In my first year, I won the Championship. In the second year, we finished third and I was the captain of the club. That was something special for me, to be captain of a big club like Hearts. It was a really, really proud moment for me.

“I had some great moments at Hearts, and it started with that goal at Easter Road. It was the best goal of my career. I scored a few other goals from distance, but that was the one – last minute, derby game ... Everything at Hearts was going really, really good.”

Ozturk had been one of the first names on the team sheet in his first two seasons at Hearts, playing with a sense of leadership that belied the fact he was still in his early 20s and in a foreign land. He made the Scottish Premiership’s team of the year last term after playing his part in a string of clean sheets. With his peak years still ahead of him and obvious potential to continue flourishing, he was viewed as one of Hearts’ most sellable assets, but the three-year contract he signed upon arrival from Trabzonspor in June 2014 was due for expiry this summer. Ozturk, 24, is adamant he was willing to sign a new deal and remains confused by the spectacular manner in which things unravelled for him since the start of this season.

“Both sides wanted to sign a contract,” he said. “I wanted to sign and Hearts wanted to sign me. Robbie Neilson told me I was one of his key players and he said ‘I want to keep you for one more year then, if you want to move after that, we will let you go’. They wanted to extend my contract by at least one year, and I was happy with that. We started to talk about everything at the end of last season. I said I wanted to focus on the last few games of the season first, but I told them I would definitely stay so they didn’t need to worry.

“When I came back in pre-season, we were still talking about extensions. The first offer they made, I did not feel it was good enough for what I had done for the club in two years. But then we spoke about what I wanted and what the club could do, and we reached an agreement. After that, I don’t know what happened. They didn’t tell me. I still have so many questions in my head.”

Ozturk claims the first hint he got that things were about to go haywire for him came in the wake of the Betfred Cup defeat away to St Johnstone in early August. After being suspended for the Premiership opener at home to Celtic, Ozturk was restored to the side for the midweek trip to Perth. Hearts were leading 2-1 and looked all set to progress before a dramatic collapse in the last 15 minutes allowed Saints to claim a 3-2 victory. Neilson was more irate than after any other match in his reign, with Ozturk bearing the brunt in the dressing-room.

In what will go down as one of Scottish football’s most mysterious episodes of 2016, the former Cambuur defender never captained the side again and started only two more matches.

“At St Andrews in pre-season, me and the gaffer spoke and we had big goals we wanted to achieve,” he said. “I felt I could help the team do that. I played in the Europa League games and everything was fine. It was only after the St Johnstone game that I realised things were not right.

“Looking back, I think they were waiting for a reason to get me out the team. I don’t think it’s possible for someone who has had two really good seasons and been the club captain to go out of the team the way I did after one bad game. In my mind, they knew already they didn’t want to keep me, and that was the game. After the game, the gaffer was not happy with me. He was just shouting at me. I still don’t understand why he did that after the game. It was strange. I didn’t say anything back to him, I didn’t give any reaction. It’s impossible that they can say I did anything wrong [in terms of Ozturk’s conduct]. I didn’t do stupid things with Robbie or anybody.

“The day after the game, I was told I will not be captain any more. That made me really angry because it was a strange decision. That was a sign that my time at Hearts was coming to an end.”

Ozturk, who has no problem with current head coach Ian Cathro, claims he is perplexed about why he wasn’t given the chance to sign a contract after he thought he had reached agreement with the club in the summer, and is irked at the manner in which he was banished from the side.

“Some people think I didn’t want to sign, but that was not the case,” he insisted. “I was happy there and I wanted to stay at least another year [after this season] because I enjoyed my football there and my first two seasons were the best time of my career.

“I’m sad about the way it ended. I didn’t deserve what happened to me at the end. I was always good to everybody. I tried to stay positive, but I’m still asking questions about how it ended.

“I don’t feel they were honest with me about the situation. I still don’t know what happened – they didn’t tell me. Maybe they were scared to tell me that they had changed their mind about keeping me. If they told me why it happened, I would accept it, but what they have done to me, I think it lacked respect. I still genuinely don’t know what happened after two great years.

“Look at how many clean sheets we had when I was in the team last season. It’s a strange situation. Even after what happened, I started again against Dundee [in October] and we won 2-0 but then I was on the bench again the next week. That was strange because we hadn’t been keeping clean sheets for a few games before that. I can’t understand that situation – it’s impossible. I spoke to the management but what I was told was a bit strange.

“My relationship with Robbie broke down towards the end. It was hard going into training but I am a professional and I always gave 100 per cent. It was difficult, though, because I knew that no matter how good I trained, I wouldn’t play at the weekend. That’s not a nice feeling. I was able to cope because whenever we had a few days off I could fly back to Holland and speak with my family. When I spoke to my brothers and sisters, it would give me new energy. My religion [Islam] also helped me because I was able to keep in my mind that everything happens for a reason. That helped me stay patient. I’m still disappointed at the way things went, though – I didn’t deserve this.”

As disappointed as he was to lose the captaincy, Ozturk insisted his successor in the role, Perry Kitchen, had his full support. “My relationship with all the guys was really good,” he said. “Perry was the captain after me and there was no problem at all between us. I don’t need the armband to be a leader. Even the season before, when I wasn’t captain, I always tried to help the younger guys. That was the same even after I lost the captaincy. I wish the guys all the best. My problem was not with them. I hope they all do really well and have good careers.”

Eager to get his stalled career back on track as he bids to realise his dream of playing for the Turkish national team, Ozturk jumped at the chance to sign for Boluspor – based in northern Turkey, between Istanbul and Ankara – when it arose last week.

“I was not sure I was definitely leaving Hearts until a few days ago,” he said. “I knew there was a possibility but this felt like a good option for me. Turkey for me feels good. Turkish people are really warm, so I’m happy to go back. It will be harder to get into the national team from the second division but I have this goal in my head. I will have to show my qualities again and hopefully go up to the first division with my new team, which will help me. I had a few possibilities to stay in Britain, but nothing serious.”

Having played a prominent role in Hearts’ rise from the Championship to the upper echelons of the Premiership, Ozturk insists he won’t allow the way it ended to overshadow a predominantly enjoyable time at Tynecastle.

“When I remember Hearts, I will always remember my first two years,” he said. “Hearts will always be in my heart. I will never forget the good times. I was really happy at Hearts. It was a special period in my life. The only bad thing was the way it went in the last five months – that was not right. I have no problems with Edinburgh, the fans or Hearts. It was really, really good. If I get the opportunity, I will be back to watch a game.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336120.1484057683!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336120.1484057683!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alim Ozturk roars with delight after scoring a last-gasp 40-yard screamer against Hibs in 2014","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alim Ozturk roars with delight after scoring a last-gasp 40-yard screamer against Hibs in 2014","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336120.1484057683!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336121.1484057685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336121.1484057685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ozturk has joined Boluspor on an 18-month deal","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ozturk has joined Boluspor on an 18-month deal","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336121.1484057685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/aaron-hughes-tipped-to-be-hearts-new-sandy-jardine-1-4336180","id":"1.4336180","articleHeadline": "Aaron Hughes tipped to be Hearts’ new Sandy Jardine","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484116216000 ,"articleLead": "

John Robertson believes Aaron Hughes can have the same steadying influence on Hearts’ youngsters as the late Sandy Jardine more than 30 years ago.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336177.1484072560!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts Legends will take on Army Legends in a match at Oriam on Sunday, March 5 at 4pm. The game will be non-ticketed with a bucket collection in aid of The Soldiers Charity. John Robertson is pictured playing some head tennis with Cpl Derek Ward. Pic: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Hughes, 37, signed a six-month contract with the Edinburgh club on Monday to provide experience in defence.

Robertson, the club’s record league goalscorer, believes the Northern Ireland veteran can have the same effect Jardine had on young Hearts defenders Craig Levein, Dave McPherson and Tosh McKinlay in the 1980s.

He expects the likes of John Souttar, Liam Smith and Callum Paterson to benefit from Hughes’ presence. “It’s an interesting one because the mandate was to bring in players to improve and sell on, but the squad has needed experience,” admitted Robertson, who works at Tynecastle in a commercial role. “Aaron Hughes is 37 and I played with one of the great Scottish defenders who won a Scottish player of the year award at 37 – Sandy Jardine. His influence on Craig Levein, Dave McPherson and Tosh McKinlay was incredible.

“Can Aaron Hughes do the same for John Souttar, Igor Rossi, Liam Smith, Callum Paterson? Of course he can.

“The one thing money can’t buy is experience and Aaron has it by the barrelload. Sometimes people arrive at a club at the right time and Aaron Hughes looks like a guy who can come here and have a major influence.”

Hughes and left-back Lennard Sowah became head coach Ian Cathro’s first signings and Robertson expects more to follow. “They are genuinely looking to improve in all areas,” he said. “If they find someone who is better than what they already have and can improve the squad they are going to try and bring them in.

“It’s been put out that there were funds available for Robbie Neilson [Cathro’s predecessor] and we are hoping that, not only is that money still available for Ian, but with Alim Ozturk and Juanma going there could be more money freed up.

“You hear rumours of six out, six in. Will that happen? Possibly. The main men will make those decisions.

“Trying to get the quality that you require in January is sometimes harder than it is in the summer, but we’ve had a very good record with that. We’ve brought in the likes of Perry Kitchen and Arnaud Djoum after the window as free agents.

“I would imagine with Craig Levein’s contacts and all the obvious contacts that Ian and Austin MacPhee have got in football, Hearts have to look forward to some more new faces arriving.”

Despite the changes, and the fact Cathro is just four weeks into his new job, Robertson doesn’t believe this season should written off as a transition period.

“Speaking to Ian and Austin, their outlook is no different to Robbie’s. They want to finish as high up the league as possible. It’s hard when you come in during the season. I had exactly the same experience when Craig went to Leicester and I came in [in 2004].

“It’s difficult when you first come in to try and change too much, especially if the team has been successful. If you change everything drastically, and results don’t go as you think, people say you’re changing too much. So you try and tinker with one or two things and then settle in. I think the break has come at a perfect time because it has given Ian and Austin five games to really look at the squad and asses it ahead of the January window. And it has given the players a chance to go and recharge the batteries.

“Speaking to a few of the lads downstairs, we’re really looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen. There will be more changes added to training, there will be more thought process going in. Will there be a change to the style of play? Not really. That’s the ethos that Craig has brought in. The new head coach will continue to play a similar style. Robbie implemented it first, very successfully, and Ian is of the same nature and thought process. It’s about passing and playing out.

“There will be subtle changes. Every coach has a subtle change, there is no doubt about that. That’s what we are all looking forward to seeing. Do I see there being massive changes from now till the end of the season in the style of play? No because that’s not the plan.

“We trust these guys implicitly. I’ve seen a few of the sessions. They are very good, very intense. The one thing that we have already seen is that they will get massive backing from the fans, from the infrastructure of the club and from the people around them, should they require it.”

• Three Hearts youngsters have extended their respective loan deals until the end of the season.

Lewis Moore, 18 – who has signed a contract to stay at Tynecastle until 2019 – will remain at Cowdenbeath, Callumn Morrison, 17, will stay on at East Stirlingshire while 19-year-old Alistair Roy has also extended his deal at Stenhousemuir.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336177.1484072560!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336177.1484072560!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts Legends will take on Army Legends in a match at Oriam on Sunday, March 5 at 4pm. The game will be non-ticketed with a bucket collection in aid of The Soldiers Charity. John Robertson is pictured playing some head tennis with Cpl Derek Ward. Pic: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts Legends will take on Army Legends in a match at Oriam on Sunday, March 5 at 4pm. The game will be non-ticketed with a bucket collection in aid of The Soldiers Charity. John Robertson is pictured playing some head tennis with Cpl Derek Ward. Pic: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336177.1484072560!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336178.1484072564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336178.1484072564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes has signed a short-term deal at Hearts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has signed a short-term deal at Hearts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336178.1484072564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336179.1484072572!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336179.1484072572!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sandy Jardine, right, and Alex Macdonald welcome Craig Levein to Hearts in 1983","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sandy Jardine, right, and Alex Macdonald welcome Craig Levein to Hearts in 1983","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336179.1484072572!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/tony-watt-can-become-a-scottish-legend-robertson-1-4336361","id":"1.4336361","articleHeadline": "Tony Watt can become a Scottish legend – Robertson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484116214000 ,"articleLead": "

Tony Watt must use his Hearts disappointment to finally realise his potential and become one of Scotland’s greatest ever footballing talents.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336360.1484077450!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tony Watt has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic"} ,"articleBody": "

That’s the opinion of the Edinburgh club’s former striker John Robertson, who believes Watt can be one of the finest players ever produced in this country.

The 23-year-old was returned to parent club Charlton Athletic six months into his season-long loan at Tynecastle. He scored just once in seventeen appearances in maroon and Robertson – Hearts’ record league goalscorer – has advised him to work on being a team player.

“I am surprised and disappointed for both it did not work out,” said Robertson, who works at Hearts in a commercial role. “In the first few games he played, he showed the ability he has got is frightening. When he is on fire, he is unplayable. But I’ve told him he needs to play in areas where he can hurt teams. If anyone can into his head and get him focusing and playing football and understanding what he can bring to a game of football, then he can go on to be anything he wants to be. Remember he is still a young kid.

“Gordon Strachan has pulled him in [to the Scotland squad] recently and that shows you the talent he has got. He’s a big lad, he’s over 6ft, he’s got strength and ability and goals in him. But it’s at the stage where he and the people who know him need to sit him down and ask him if he knows what he has got – then go and show it.

“This kid could be anything he wants. He’s one of the best natural talents I’ve seen in Scotland. With a ball at his feet, he can do anything. It’s what he produces at the end of the day. Every manager in the game will see Tony’s ability and think: ‘I can get through to him.’ He’s a challenge but, if you get that challenge right, Tony Watt could be one of the best players Scotland has ever produced.”

Robertson is convinced Watt is hungry enough despite doubts over his application. “He says the right things and he does want to do it. I can only see it as a focus thing. In most jobs, if you want to get to the top and be the best, you need to focus on yourself and be selfish at times. You have to do that within the team because you have another ten team-mates.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4336360.1484077450!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4336360.1484077450!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tony Watt has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tony Watt has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4336360.1484077450!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/aaron-hughes-fit-for-hearts-after-facing-bale-and-gotze-1-4335490","id":"1.4335490","articleHeadline": "Aaron Hughes fit for Hearts after facing Bale and Gotze","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484029851000 ,"articleLead": "

Aaron Hughes eyeballed world superstars Gareth Bale, Mario Götze and Yevhen Konoplyanka at Euro 2016. Joining Hearts won’t faze him at all according to his international manager, Michael O’Neill.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335488.1483984344!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes, second right, joins Hearts just a few months after facing the Continents finest at Euro 2016 in France"} ,"articleBody": "

The defender’s birth certificate may state he is 37 years old but O’Neill advised Hearts fans to look beyond the age of a player he insists is in physically impeccable condition.

Hughes signed a six-month contract with the Edinburgh club yesterday, as did the German left-back Lennard Sowah. Both are intended to reinforce a defence which has conceded 26 goals in 21 league games to date this season.

Hughes was a key part of the Northern Ireland squad which reached the knockout phase of last summer’s European Championship. He faced some of the tournament’s biggest names from clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Sevilla. Whatever the Scottish Premiership throws at him, O’Neill is convinced he will handle it.

“He’s not a 37-year-old in terms of where he is physically. He’s looked after himself impeccably throughout his career so I don’t think his age is a factor at all. Hearts fans will see that quite quickly when he starts playing,” O’Neill told the Evening News.

“Athletically, he’s held his own with Northern Ireland against some of the best players in Europe. We played him at right-back in the finals and he came up against Konoplyanka, Mario Götze and Gareth Bale. He’s used to playing against that calibre of player.

“Aaron has played against top-class players his whole career so he’ll be able to deal with the Scottish game. I think he’ll enjoy it and he’ll enjoy the new challenge. Attacking and creative players can take time to settle but, as a defender, I believe he’ll settle very quickly.”

Hughes made his name in England’s Premier League with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham. After spells in Australia and India, he arrived in the Capital last week as a free agent. He consulted O’Neill – who still lives in Edinburgh – about the possibility of joining Hearts, whose assistant coach Austin MacPhee is also part of O’Neill’s Northern Ireland coaching staff.

“He came up to Edinburgh with his wife and had a look around once he thought this move was going to happen. We had a coffee and a chat,” continued O’Neill. “If I’m honest, I’ve spoken to a lot of Scottish managers about Aaron in the last 12 months. A lot of them showed an interest in him.

“I know Hearts have got some young players in their back four and Aaron will help them, but he’s still very much capable of playing at the top level. If you look his number of appearances in the English Premier League, it’s up there in the top ten or 15. He’s played international football consistently since he was 18 or 19 and now has 104 caps.

“He brings a wealth of experience but he’s also such a top professional. Just having him at the club will be a bonus. Young players can only learn from him in terms of what it means to be a professional and how to prepare for games.

“The first thing I did when I took the Northern Ireland job [in 2011] was to convince Aaron to come out of international retirement. I told him he could go on to play 100 times for his country and he’s subsequently done that.”

Scotland is now the latest port of call in a career which has touched the heights. From his talks with Hughes, O’Neill revealed the defender’s thought process.

“In the last 18 months, Aaron has wanted to see different things. He went to Australia and India when he could’ve stayed in England. I think that’s partly why he’s attracted to Hearts. He’s never played in Scotland and he’s interested in coming to Edinburgh.

“He wants to play on at the top level for as long as he can. One of the attractions is that he’ll play less games in Scotland than he would if he went to an English Championship or League One club. That appeals to him when you factor in international matches too.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335488.1483984344!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335488.1483984344!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes, second right, joins Hearts just a few months after facing the Continents finest at Euro 2016 in France","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes, second right, joins Hearts just a few months after facing the Continents finest at Euro 2016 in France","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335488.1483984344!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335489.1483984346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335489.1483984346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes and Michael ONeill in full celebration","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes and Michael ONeill in full celebration","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335489.1483984346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/german-lennard-sowah-tipped-to-solve-hearts-left-back-issue-1-4335516","id":"1.4335516","articleHeadline": "German Lennard Sowah tipped to solve Hearts’ left-back issue","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484029801000 ,"articleLead": "

Explosive pace, a cultured left foot, German youth caps and a CV detailing St Pauli, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Hamburg. Anyone questioning Hearts’ signing of the German left-back Lennard Sowah should perhaps think again.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335514.1483987222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lennard Sowah has a chance to become Hearts No.1 left-back"} ,"articleBody": "

Or chat to Sean McKirdy, the former Tynecastle midfielder who was Sowah’s team-mate at Hamilton until last month. Sowah spent the last three months at New Douglas Park before agreeing to switch to Tynecastle on an initial six-month contract, which was confirmed yesterday.

Aged 24, he managed seven appearances in Lanarkshire and his arrival in Edinburgh has left some Hearts supporters underwhelmed. McKirdy, a product of the Riccarton youth academy, can understand why but outlined the qualities of a player who could, potentially, solve the problem left-back position at his former club.

“He’s a very explosive player, very quick over 15 or 20 yards,” explained the teenager. “You could see a mile off that he’s a good player but Hearts is a good move for him at this stage.

“I can see from a Hearts fan’s point of view why it’s maybe not the most exciting signing in the world, but I can see him being the one to add a bit of style to that left-back position. I think he’ll do well there.

“I was half wondering if someone in the Premiership would take a chance on him when he left Hamilton. I didn’t expect it to be Hearts but he has always looked comfortable when he’s played. He stood out when he played for Hamilton and he’s at a decent age.

“Hearts have gone down that route before, signing a promising young player who has maybe lost their way a little bit. It doesn’t entirely surprise me from that point of view so I hope it works out for him.”

Sowah was born in Hamburg to Ghanaian parents and joined local club St Pauli aged 13. He was then lured to Arsenal the following year. Subsequent moves to Portsmouth, back to Hamburg SV and then to Vestsjaelland in Denmark saw him fail to settle. Muscle injuries common in players with explosive pace didn’t help. Now he gets the chance to establish himself as Hearts’ first-choice left-back ahead of Juwon Oshaniwa and Faycal Rherras. “It’s a big move but he’s a strong character,” continued McKirdy.

“At Hamilton, even when he was trying to play football in areas which some people considered were the wrong areas, he dealt with it. He never went into his shell. He still looked to play.

“He’s very, very comfortable on the ball. You see that straight away. He’s always looking to try and play with the ball if he can. He’s left-footed, very cultured and just one of these footballers who looks very balanced. He’s pretty athletic and very quick on recovery runs.

“He’s good enough defensively to play centre-back and he’s good on the ball, so I can see him doing well at Hearts once he gets settled.

“He played left of a back three a lot at Hamilton because we play a back three or back five most of the time. With his injuries, we haven’t see him at left-back in a back four, which is where I’d assume he’ll play at Hearts.

“He’ll have no problems going forward because he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet. He’s also decent defensively. I was impressed by him from the moment he came in.”

It would be fair to say he is a player with typically German attributes rather than those of his African heritage. “I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that. He is a very efficient player who does his job and he’s played with some very good teams,” said McKirdy. “I heard about his move from one of the boys at Hearts yesterday morning. No-one at Hamilton knew about it. As far as we were concerned, Lennard was away and that was it.

“He was only at Hamilton for a few months but he’s a very friendly and amicable guy. He kept himself to himself and never had any problems with anyone. I’d be surprised if anyone had a bad word to say about him.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335514.1483987222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335514.1483987222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lennard Sowah has a chance to become Hearts No.1 left-back","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lennard Sowah has a chance to become Hearts No.1 left-back","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335514.1483987222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335515.1483987223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335515.1483987223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sean McKirdy came through Hearts academy before joining Hamilton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sean McKirdy came through Hearts academy before joining Hamilton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335515.1483987223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/new-hearts-defenders-hughes-and-sowah-reveal-why-they-signed-1-4335530","id":"1.4335530","articleHeadline": "New Hearts defenders Hughes and Sowah reveal why they signed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483988652000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro has secured his first signings in management as defenders Aaron Hughes and Lennard Sowah penned six-month contracts with Hearts.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335528.1483994502!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has signed a deal with Hearts until the end of the season. Pic: Hearts FC"} ,"articleBody": "

Both players trained for the first time with their new team-mates at Riccarton this morning after agreeing short-term deals. They are initially here until the summer but their contracts could be extended into next season.

Fitness permitting, they will make their Hearts debuts a week on Sunday against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup.

Cathro wanted 37-year-old free agent Hughes for his vast experience as a former English Premier League defender with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham.

Left-back Sowah, 24, is also a free agent after leaving Hamilton. He is seen as someone who could solve Hearts’ problem left-back position.

With 104 Northern Ireland caps, Hughes explained that he joined the Edinburgh club to prolong his international career after leaving the Indian side Kerala Blasters. Cathro’s assistant, Austin MacPhee, is also a member of Northern Ireland’s coaching staff and was key to the deal.

“Northern Ireland are in the middle of a World Cup campaign and I was looking to come back and play at a level that will enable me to stay involved with the national team,” said the centre-back, who played at Euro 2016. “That was the idea behind coming back to the UK. Obviously Hearts then came in for me and I believe this club is at a good level.

“First impressions of the club have been very good. I’ve had a few weeks off after coming back from India and I’m delighted to get going again now. I obviously know Austin MacPhee from the Northern Ireland setup and he was my first point of contact here.

“We’ve been in dialogue over the last couple of weeks, I know him well and know how he works so I feel this is the right move. I’m happy to be here and looking forward to keeping my standards up. The question I keep asking myself is whether I’m motivated to carry on and I certainly am. I feel fit and I’m motivated to play for as long as I can.

“It’s something new for me, which is what attracted me to come here. There’s a lot to play for here and we’re in a good position. The first half of the season has been fairly good and I believe there are exciting times ahead here.”

Hughes replaces the outgoing Alim Ozturk, who moved to Turkish second division club Boluspor at the weekend. Having worked with managers like Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson, he gained a positive first impression from Hearts head coach Cathro.

“First impressions are always a big thing and, from speaking to Ian, it’s clear that he’s very motivated and intelligent. After speaking to him I was convinced that this would be the right challenge for me.”

Sowah joined Hamilton on a short-term contract in October and, after seven appearances, has defected to Tynecastle.

“When I got the offer from Hearts I was really excited about it and I think it’s the right decision for me to sign for Hearts,” he told the club website. “I feel right at home in Scotland. I’ve played in England before and I love the passion for the game over here.

“I’ve had a great welcome from the boys here and they seem like good people.”

Sowah counts St Pauli, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Hamburg amongst his former clubs. “I was only 17 or 18 when I played down there [in England], it was definitely very exciting but that’s in the past. I’m here now and that’s all I’m focused on.

“My favourite position is left-back but I can also play in the middle or out on the wing. Left-back is where I prefer to play and I will do my very best to help the team succeed.”

Meanwhile, Hearts have confirmed the early termination of striker Tony Watt’s loan agreement. He has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic. The club have also confirmed the arrival of two under-20 players – English winger Zidan Akers and Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Gajda.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335528.1483994502!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335528.1483994502!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes has signed a deal with Hearts until the end of the season. Pic: Hearts FC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has signed a deal with Hearts until the end of the season. Pic: Hearts FC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335528.1483994502!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335529.1483994506!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335529.1483994506!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lennard Sowah is a former Hamburg player. Pic: Hearts FC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lennard Sowah is a former Hamburg player. Pic: Hearts FC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335529.1483994506!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-complete-signings-of-aaron-hughes-and-lennard-sowah-1-4335340","id":"1.4335340","articleHeadline": "Hearts complete signings of Aaron Hughes and Lennard Sowah","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483974423000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts have signed Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes and German left-back Lennard Sowah until the end of the season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335338.1483974368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has signed until the end of the season"} ,"articleBody": "

The pair have agreed short-term deals which could potentially be extended beyond the summer. They met their new new team-mates and trained at Riccarton for the first time this morning after agreeing to become head coach Ian Cathro’s first signings.

Fitness permitting, they will make their Hearts debuts a week on Sunday against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup. Both players arrive as free agents to reinforce the Edinburgh club’s defence.

Hughes has vast experience as a former English Premier League centre-back with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham. He also holds 104 caps for Northern Ireland - who count Cathro’s assistant Austin MacPhee amongst their coaching staff - and represented his country at Euro 2016 last summer.

Hughes spent the last six months as a marquee player at the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters. He left as a free agent at the end of last year and has taken the chance to continue his career back in Britain.

Sowah has a considerably lower profile. The left-back is a German of Ghanaian origin, 6ft 1ins tall and 24 years old. He spent the first half of this season with Hamilton Academical

He managed seven appearances but left New Douglas Park last month when his contract expired. He counts Arsenal, Portsmouth and Hamburg amongst his former clubs and has also represented Germany at under-16, under-18 and under-19 level.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335338.1483974368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335338.1483974368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes has signed until the end of the season","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has signed until the end of the season","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335338.1483974368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4335339.1483974375!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4335339.1483974375!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lennard Sowah was formerly at Hamilton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lennard Sowah was formerly at Hamilton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4335339.1483974375!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-boss-ian-cathro-we-need-two-new-players-at-least-1-4334637","id":"1.4334637","articleHeadline": "Hearts boss Ian Cathro: We need two new players at least","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483943422000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts plan to recruit at least two new players this month as head coach Ian Cathro tries to strengthen his defence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334636.1483896818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts have offered Aaron Hughes a short-term deal while the club hope to sign his Northern Ireland team-mate Niall McGinn, right, on a pre-contract agreement"} ,"articleBody": "

His first signing could be the Northern Ireland centre-back Aaron Hughes, who has met Hearts officials to discuss a contract until the end of the season. A striker could also arrive before the transfer window closes at the end of the month – but a more immediate priority is reinforcing the Tynecastle back line.

Hughes, 37, is currently a free agent after leaving the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters at the end of last year.

He is wanted for his experience and leadership having played in England’s Premier League with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham. He also holds 104 caps for Northern Ireland and represented his country at Euro 2016.

A short-term deal until the summer is on the table but that could potentially be extended into next season. Hughes is familiar with Hearts assistant coach Austin MacPhee, who is also second in command to Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill. His arrival in Gorgie would reinforce the centre of the defence and, potentially, allow Igor Rossi to fill the left-back role. Cathro, who has allowed defender Alim Ozturk to sever ties with Hearts and join Turkish second-tier side Boluspor on an 18-month deal, revealed today that he wants “a couple” of new signings initially, with anything beyond that dependent on who is available.

Hearts want to secure the Aberdeen forward Niall McGinn on a pre-contract agreement ahead of next season. For now, Cathro has other targets.

“It will be important that we bring in a couple of players,” he told the Evening News. “Whether that number grows from there will be down to us being able to find interesting options in the market which work for us.

“I can say we need a couple just now. Anything beyond that will be an opportunity that really represents value for the club and can improve us significantly. Those are hard to find this month. We need to do some things to give us a little bit more strength around the team. Outside of that, we will be hunting every day to investigate all options. We’ll look for things that can improve us. If we do things outside of the necessities.”

Striker Tony Watt has returned to parent club Charlton Athletic after his season-long loan was cut short.

Spanish forward Juanma Delgado is also close to completing a permanent move to Japan. He is currently on a 12-month loan at UCAM Murcia in Spain but that will be ripped up to let him join V-Varen Nagasaki.

“Everything does free up wages. Juanma is on a season-long loan as it stands so there’s no direct influence on that,” continued Cathro.

“With that and the right players, you can create opportunities. It really is just a case of trying to look at each situation on the outgoings and incomings and evaluating it all properly. We need to do the right things for the club and for individual people.”

Dundee United are still interested in signing another Hearts striker, Conor Sammon, but the Irishman has stated he wants to fight for his place at Tynecastle.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4334636.1483896818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334636.1483896818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts have offered Aaron Hughes a short-term deal while the club hope to sign his Northern Ireland team-mate Niall McGinn, right, on a pre-contract agreement","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts have offered Aaron Hughes a short-term deal while the club hope to sign his Northern Ireland team-mate Niall McGinn, right, on a pre-contract agreement","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4334636.1483896818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/alim-ozturk-leaves-hearts-for-turkish-club-boluspor-1-4334589","id":"1.4334589","articleHeadline": "Alim Ozturk leaves Hearts for Turkish club Boluspor","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483892247878 ,"articleLead": "

Alim Ozturk has left Hearts to join the Turkish club Boluspor on an 18-month contract.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334588.1483892335!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alim Ozturk has left Hearts and joined Boluspor on an 18-month deal"} ,"articleBody": "

The centre-back was out of favour at Tynecastle and was told he had no future there having been stripped of the captaincy in September.

He leaves in a permanent move after deciding to return to the Turkish second tier. He previously played in Turkey with Trabzonspor before joining Hearts in 2014.

The 24-year-old enjoyed an impressive first season in Scotland as the Edinburgh club won the Championship. He was then named club captain in 2015 after Danny Wilson departed.

However, this season Ozturk lost his place in the starting line-up. He was relieved of the captain's armband in September, which was given to the American internationalist Perry Kitchen.

Ozturk decided to return to Turkey at the first opportunity but will remain popular with the Hearts support for his memorable 40-yard equaliser against Hibs at Easter Road in October 2014.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4334588.1483892335!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334588.1483892335!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alim Ozturk has left Hearts and joined Boluspor on an 18-month deal","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alim Ozturk has left Hearts and joined Boluspor on an 18-month deal","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4334588.1483892335!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-offer-short-term-contract-to-defender-aaron-hughes-1-4334522","id":"1.4334522","articleHeadline": "Hearts offer short-term contract to defender Aaron Hughes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483881135000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts have made contact with Northern Ireland international defender Aaron Hughes to offer a contract until the end of the season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334521.1483881088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has won 104 caps for Northern Ireland"} ,"articleBody": "

The 37-year-old is now poised to become head coach Ian Cathro’s first signing at Tynecastle.

The deal could be extended into next season if both parties agree. The centre-back is currently a free agent and is wanted for his experience and leadership as Cathro tries to strengthen his defence.

Hughes has played in England’s Premier League with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham. He also holds 104 caps for Northern Ireland and represented his country at Euro 2016 last summer.

He has worked with Hearts assistant coach Austin MacPhee, who is also second in command to Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill.

Hughes spent the last six months as a marquee player at the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters but is keen on the chance to continue his career back in Britain.

His arrival in Gorgie would reinforce the centre of Cathro’s defence and, potentially, allow Igor Rossi to fill the left-back role.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4334521.1483881088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4334521.1483881088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aaron Hughes has won 104 caps for Northern Ireland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aaron Hughes has won 104 caps for Northern Ireland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4334521.1483881088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/maroon-memories-tommy-walker-a-smiling-muddy-imp-1-4332975","id":"1.4332975","articleHeadline": "Maroon Memories: Tommy Walker ‘a smiling, muddy imp’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483770600000 ,"articleLead": "

An amazing game played on a quagmire of a pitch at Ibrox Park yielded Heart of Midlothian a notable victory over Rangers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4332974.1483651349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Walkers amazing energy was a feature of the game although Fred Warren scored for Hearts"} ,"articleBody": "

Only the previous month, Hearts routed Rangers at Tynecastle, at the same time inflicting upon the Cup holders their first defeat of the season.

In the interim, Rangers had recovered from this reverse with several smart wins, only to meet their second defeat from the same source.

Hearts were inspired. They rose to the occasion magnificently, playing with all their old spirit, and were entirely different from the feckless side who lost at Dundee the Saturday before, and probably lost then a great chance in the championship.

Additional merit in the Edinburgh side’s win lies in the fact that there were no fewer than five enforced changes from their recognised best team.

Their chances were indeed slim, even when they crossed over with the lead of the single goal that eventually brought them victory. The home side played a dour, defensive game so far as the rear ranks were concerned, while the forwards showed method that seemed bound to succeed. Hearts’ counter to this was enthusiasm and individual skill, which suited the terrible weather conditions.

Every man of the 22, however, was a hero, and none more entitled to honours than the lauded Tommy Walker, a veritable smiling, mud-covered imp, whose amazing energy was a feature of the game.

Others who did stand out were Willie Waugh and Jimmy Dykes for Hearts, and Dawson, Simpson, and Smith for Rangers.

Both goalkeepers make 
marvellous saves at testing times, and fully lived up to their reputations as Scotland’s first and second choice. Dawson, the internationalist, did particularly 
well, but had no chance to save the score against him.

Even more important than the individual play was the comparatively high standard of football provided under conditions that made many of an attendance of over 30,000 doubtful if the match would be played to a finish. A great deal of jostling and badly-placed charging was only to be expected, but penalty appeals by both sides were refused.

Hearts had to kick off against a storm of wind and rain, and although they made fairly good progress, they met with stern resistance in the form of devastating sliding tackles. Only Walker could keep his feet when it came to ploughing through the mud in a stiff attack and, even at this stage, he had Brown and others running themselves out.

Rangers’ inside forwards were passing better, and before long Smith and Kinnear got through for shots that Waugh saved at full stretch.

Hearts’ rallies were more brief, but quite effective, and ten minutes from the interval they went ahead.

A corner kick, on the right, was partially cleared and 
returned hard for Fred Warren, standing at the near post, to run the ball into the net.

Even after this setback, Rangers still played to plan, and, with the wind dropping in the second half, they were not greatly handicapped.

It was then the turn of the visitors to tackle grimly, and Robson subdued McPhail, while Dykes kept a firm grip on Smith. The burly centre got through once, however, and a fierce shot from eight yards went over off the crossbar.

Then Walker came away with more of his cantrips, and Rangers’ defenders tired. Dawson saved them from a more severe defeat with two back-breaking saves, twisting in mid-air, from volleys by Walsh.

Nevertheless, it was freely admitted that Rangers played better than they did against Celtic and Partick Thistle – both games that they won by the only goal.

Hearts on the other hand, produced some of the mercurial form that makes their championship efforts so baffling and so interesting.

However, Rangers went on to claim the title with Hearts finishing in fifth place.

Hearts: Waugh, Anderson, Herd, Harvey, Dykes, Murray, Ferguson, Walker, Walsh, Robson, Warren.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Rangers 0, Hearts 1: January 4, 1937"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4332974.1483651349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4332974.1483651349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tommy Walkers amazing energy was a feature of the game although Fred Warren scored for Hearts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Walkers amazing energy was a feature of the game although Fred Warren scored for Hearts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4332974.1483651349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ian-cathro-welcomes-the-big-calls-he-faces-as-hearts-boss-1-4333849","id":"1.4333849","articleHeadline": "Ian Cathro welcomes the big calls he faces as Hearts boss","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1483770600000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro is navigating his way through the first January transfer window of his managerial career. Hearts’ fortunes for the second half of the season depend heavily on his decisions, which is exactly what Britain’s youngest manager wants.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4333848.1483731698!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro roars on his team against Dundee. He says the 3-2 defeat from 2-0 in front taught him a great deal"} ,"articleBody": "

The 30-year-old Dundonian served his time assisting coaches like Nuno Espirito Santo and Rafa Benitez. Now he gets to call the shots, negotiate with agents, sign some players and release others. Being Hearts head coach is a privileged position and one he worked long and hard to achieve.

Cathro explained why his character and personality are more suited to making the critical decisions rather than helping someone else do so.

“I genuinely don’t feel any massive difference or that my life has been shook up. The main difference is that, rather than having an opinion or thinking about a lot of things, I’m now making the decisions on all these things,” he said, speaking exclusively to the Evening News.

“I feel that’s really the only difference. Rather than being involved in somebody else’s decision-making, it’s my decision-making.

“That’s easier for me to do. I’m much more comfortable holding the responsibility than trying to help when it’s somebody else’s responsibility. It’s just the way I am. It’s been fine so far.”

Learning about life at Tynecastle has consumed much of his time over the four weeks since he replaced Robbie Neilson. In particular, he had to find out about a largely new group of players. Results like the one at Dens Park two days before Christmas, when Hearts sacrificed a 2-0 lead in a harrowing 3-2 defeat, perversely helped Cathro’s learning process.

“I’m somebody who thinks every single day whether something might have been better if we’d done X instead of Y. That’s a constant thing,” he admitted. “To this point, the things which haven’t gone so well were things we needed to happen in order to know.

“When you’re new into a club with a new set of dynamics, there are little stories that you don’t know. There’s a lot things you need to try and understand quickly. In the early stages, you just don’t know what you don’t know until somebody tells you or it smacks you in the face.

“We’ve probably had to live through those things to learn quickly what the alternatives are. So far, we’ve got to take value from the first period of time – that’s the negatives and the little positives which were there as well. We have to make sure we can be in a more informed position very quickly.”

One win, one draw and three defeats wasn’t the start Cathro hoped for in management. He doesn’t shirk the issue and openly concedes that Hearts should have garnered more points from those fixtures. He is attempting to instil a more controlled style of play based around ball retention and is confident progress is being made, albeit it is results which ultimately matter.

“I think there is some progress,” continued Cathro. “When I look from day zero until now, and look at the small steps we want to take to eventually have a way of playing which will make us stronger and more consistent, then there has been progress in that direction.

“The games are the main thing and my take on that is that we should have five more points than we do. That’s quite a big number across five games and there’s a big disappointment in not achieving that.”

Again, he willingly carries the can.

“I would probably also add that, in this situation, I’m the one who has to put the hands in the sky and accept responsibility for that. I’m comfortable with that. The two results against Partick [1-1 draw] and Dundee should have been different results.”

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