Hearts set to sign USA midfielder Perry Kitchen

Perry Kitchen has three caps for the United States

Perry Kitchen has three caps for the United States

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HEARTS will sign the American international midfielder Perry Kitchen this week as head coach Robbie Neilson reinforces his squad.

The 24-year-old has three caps for the USA and has already had a UK work permit approved to join the Tynecastle club.

Kitchen arrived at Riccarton on Monday to train with his new team-mates for the first time. He has provisionally agreed a two-and-a-half year contract after rejecting a new deal at the MLS club DC United. Despite interest from teams in Denmark and Germany, the player is expected to finalise his move to Hearts by the end of the week.

Kitchen is a defensive midfielder who was named DC United’s Most Valuable Player in 2013. He has been keen to further his career by moving to Europe and could give Hearts a vital boost as they try to secure a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds this season.

They took one step closer to that target last night by beating Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2-0 at Tynecastle. Goals from Jamie Walker and Abiola Dauda took the Edinburgh club to within six points of second-placed Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership. The Pittodrie club face Dundee United this evening.

“I was pleased with the game,” said head coach Robbie Neilson. “We started well and showed patience to keep the ball and probe. We got a good goal and I thought we were quite comfortable. We sat a bit deeper in the second half to try and counter-attack. We probably created more chances by doing that, we just didn’t kill the game off as we’d hoped.

“We’re sitting in a good position in third place. We want to try and cement that and try to get European football if we can, then aim as high as we can. We had two home games so far this week and we’ve won two of them. We have another one coming up on Saturday. It’s important we win that as well.

“If we do that, we have a tough period after that. We’re away to Dundee, then it’s St Johnstone here, Aberdeen here and Celtic away. The four games after Saturday are really tough. The plan was to get nine points from these three home games. We’ve got six so far.”

Walker scored his third goal in three games last night having fully recovered from a knee injury which sidelined him for three months.

“Jamie is a good player,” said Neilson. “He’s had a difficult season with niggling injuries and then his knee problem.

“Getting him back is like getting a new player in January. He’s got great technique, it’s just his fitness levels we need to build up. Getting 70 minutes last night gives him another boost.”