Hearts have loan offer accepted for Ashley Smith-Brown

Ashley Smith-Brown spent last year on loan in the Netherlands with NAC Breda
Ashley Smith-Brown spent last year on loan in the Netherlands with NAC Breda
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Hearts’ season-long loan offer for the Manchester City left-back Ashley Smith-Brown has been accepted.

Provided a few remaining details are finalised, the 21-year-old should join up with Ian Cathro’s squad in time for their pre-season trip to Ireland next month.

City are happy for the player to spend the season at Tynecastle to enhance his development and challenge him physically. He spent last year on loan in the Netherlands with NAC Breda, helping them win promotion to the Dutch top flight.

Rangers have been credited with an interest in Smith-Brown after appointing Man City’s academy director Mark Allen as director of football at Ibrox. However, Hearts are strong favourites to secure the defender’s loan signature ahead of next season.

Smith-Brown is an attack-minded left-back, who has represented England at every youth level up to under-20. He has been part of City’s youth academy since the age of five and captained their under-18 side.

Hearts, whose interest in the player was revealed by the Evening News, want him to operate in a left wing-back role next season as head coach Cathro plans to continue with a three-man central defence. The left-back area has been a problem at Tynecastle in recent years with Juwon Oshaniwa, Faycal Rherras and Lennard Sowah all failing to cement themselves in the team.

Rherras and Sowah left the Edinburgh club last month as Scotland defender Christophe Berra, English striker Cole Stockton and the Pole Rafal Grzelak arrived.

Smith-Brown would be the fourth capture of the summer provided there are no unexpected hitches to the proposed deal. Hearts have also made a move to sign the Northern Ireland international striker Kyle Lafferty, who was in Edinburgh on Friday for an initial meeting with Tynecastle officials.