Robbie Neilson today challenged Prince Buaben to prove his fitness and recapture his Dundee United form to earn a contract at Hearts.
The Ghanaian midfielder was due to train at Riccarton this morning after his trial with the Edinburgh club was extended, and head coach Neilson wants the player to prove himself worthy of a permanent deal.
Buaben, 26, spent four years at United between 2007 and 2011 having been signed by Craig Levein, who is now Hearts’ director of football. Neilson admitted today that the player’s fitness needs work after he joined Hearts on trial in England last week. Neilson said he would consider offering a contract if Buaben reproduces the form which made him a favourite at Tannadice.
“He’s a wee bit off in terms of fitness and he needs a bit more training, so he’s coming up here to train for a few days,” he told the Evening News. “That gives us a look at him again. We could do with getting one more in. We’ll just see how he gets on fitness-wise and take it from there. He’s a good player and a good character. If he can get himself back to where he was at Dundee United, then he’ll definitely be an asset for us.”
Buaben played 45 minutes of Hearts’ friendly win over Dinamo Bucharest on Sunday in Leigh, Greater Manchester.
He left Carlisle United after spending the second half of last season on loan at Partick Thistle. He is likely to remain in Edinburgh until the end of the week as Hearts prepare for friendlies against Hamilton tomorrow night and East Fife on Saturday.
“I thought he would be here about a week, although there’s no time limit on it,” continued Neilson.
“He’s coming in for a few days and we’ll take it from there. He might be involved against East Fife if he stays but I’m not sure about the Hamilton game.
“Prince stays down in Manchester and I knew that from his time at Dundee United. He doesn’t have a club and his agent put him forward to us.
“We thought it was quite handy for him coming in when we were down there last week because he could stay in his own house and travel in for training. We’ll see how he gets on up here.”
Neilson has told the former Hibs and Berwick Rangers midfielder Lee Currie, who also featured as a trialist during Hearts’ trip to England, that he will not be offered a contract.