HEARTS hope to beat a host of English clubs to the loan signing of Sunderland striker Ryan Noble. Tynecastle officials have inquired about a deal to bring the 21-year-old north until the end of the season, however Championship and League One teams are also pursuing the player.
Hearts manager John McGlynn has watched Noble in action for Sunderland’s U-21 side and is keen to recruit another forward to reinforce his attack. Striker Michael Ngoo and defender Danny Wilson arrived on loan from Liverpool recently, but McGlynn technically still has one more squad place available due to the departure of U-20 striker Callum Wyllie earlier this month.
Noble is a regular for Sunderland’s U-21s and has previously been loaned out to Hartlepool United (twice), Derby County and Watford. He is 6ft tall with good movement and pace going forward. Sunderland rate him highly, but feel he needs more first-team experience. The Evening News has learned Noble is interested in the prospect of a loan move to the Scottish Premier League.
Hearts must adhere to strict signing restrictions imposed by the SPL following their failure to pay players on time late last year. They can only sign players under the age of 21 on a one-in, one-out basis, and any incoming player must be paid equal or less money than who he replaces.
Ryan McGowan and Peter Enckelman left earlier this month to be replaced by Wilson and Ngoo. With youth-team striker Wyllie also having been released, there is one more space available to manager McGlynn.
Any loan deal to Hearts would depend on Sunderland agreeing to accept the equivalent of Wyllie’s youth team wages as a token contribution towards Noble’s salary. If they are willing, then an agreement could be reached between the clubs before the January transfer window closes on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Football Association has confirmed that Hearts midfielder Scott Robinson is suspended for his club’s next two matches against Dundee and Ross County.
Robinson was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Inverness’ Owain Tudur Jones during Saturday’s Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final. The offence carries an automatic two-match ban, leaving Robinson free to face St Mirren in the final at Hampden Park on March 17. Hearts’ captain Marius Zaliukas is banned for that game after incurring his second League Cup caution this
season against Inverness.