Hearts will open talks with Krystian Nowak’s agent in the hope of signing the Poland Under-21 defender.
Other Scottish Premiership sides are waiting to pounce if the Edinburgh club don’t make a formal contract offer, but Nowak is edging closer to a deal.
He has been on trial at Riccarton since last week and coaching staff are impressed with his performances in training. He also looked composed and assured in a bounce match which took place last weekend.
Hearts now plan to open discussions with the 22-year-old’s representatives in the hope of agreeing terms. At 6ft 2in tall, he would provide ideal defensive cover after Jordan McGhee joined Middlesbrough on a season-long loan.
“He [Nowak] is one we’re looking at. We’ll keep him for the rest of the week and then make a decision on him, but he’s done well. Defence is an area we’re looking to strengthen,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach.
Nowak left the Polish club Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biala at the end of last season after his contract was not renewed. He previously played with Widzew Lodz and UKS SMS Lodz and is regarded as a young defender with good potential in his homeland. Several clubs in Scotland’s top flight were alerted to his availability and three are still interesting in signing him if a move to Hearts collapses. If a deal is struck quickly, however, Nowak could find himself pitched into Neilson’s matchday squad for Sunday’s opening Ladbrokes Premiership match with Celtic at Tynecastle. One player unlikely to be registered in time is the American striker Bjorn Johnsen. Hearts are now planning to face Celtic without him as international clearance has yet to arrive. Tynecastle officials are waiting on FIFA to ratify his move from Bulgaria, where CSKA Sofia claim he has a contract with them. FIFA must issue an international transfer certificate [ITC] before Johnsen, who has signed a three-year Hearts contract, can be registered with the Scottish Football Association. A temporary ITC would allow him to play while FIFA investigate the matter but so far no such document has been granted.
• FORMER Hearts defender Blazej Augustyn has signed a two-year deal with Italian Serie B side Ascoli.