ARVYDAS NOVIKOVAS admitted today that this is a huge season for him as he tries to establish himself as a first pick under John McGlynn.
The winger has flitted in and out of the side under previous managers since joining Hearts in 2008 from FK Vilnius.
He played a bit-part under Paulo Sergio, Jim Jefferies and Csaba Laszlo and was loaned to St Johnstone last year.
But the 21-year-old has been used more regularly this season by McGlynn, coming on as a substitute in the first two games and then starting the last four league matches.
Novikovas was expected to be involved against Dundee United at Tannadice this afternoon, which would be his seventh appearance of the campaign.
But his contract runs out at the end of this season and the player knows that it is make or break as far as his future in Edinburgh is concerned.
He said: “I’m quite happy. The gaffer has given me a chance to play and I’ve taken it. I want to be a regular player this year, but I also must assist in creating chances for my team-mates.
“Of course, I try to do my best all the time. It’s going to be a very hard season for me and the rest of the boys and we need to do our best. There are still ten months to go. Let’s see what happens.
“I’m in my last season. I definitely won’t return home because the standard there is very bad. Maybe I’ll get a new contract here or leave and go somewhere else.”
New contract or no new contract, Novikovas will certainly be hoping to make an impression against Dundee United today as Hearts head to Tannadice on the back of a miserable run of results on Tayside.
They haven’t won on United’s home patch for more than three years, but the Lithuanian is keen to see that change.
He scored a beauty on his last outing there, although Hearts again dropped points, his goal helping them to earn a 2-2 draw.
And he added: “We will do our best to change our recent record against Dundee United. We haven’t won there in three years and we must do our best because we need to start scoring goals and taking some points. It is also important for me to start scoring goals and creating chances for my team-mates.”
The issue of unpaid wages again reared its head this week with a handful of first-team players, manager John McGlynn and one other member of the coaching staff all having to wait for their money to arrive in their bank accounts.
They were supposed to be paid along with the rest of the squad on Monday but those remaining did not receive payment until Thursday.
Novikovas was not one of those affected by the delay and he believed that the other players had been understanding about the situation because it was only short-term.
He continued: “I was paid, but I don’t know about the others. The atmosphere has been the same as always, we don’t speak so much about wages. If the players had gone a month without wages it would be a problem, but it’s only a few days.”
Club owner Vladimir Romanov has made no secret of the fact that he does not want to invest any more of his money in the Jambos as he moves his focus on to running for President of Lithuania.
But Novikovas believes that the Russian is still happy to be involved with the Tynecastle club.
“He has his big basketball club who are winning titles and that’s good for him – and us – as it means he’s happy. He watched the game against Liverpool and talked to the players and he was very happy with all of us.
“I think he was happy before the Liverpool game as well. He doesn’t come a lot to Scotland and maybe it’s because of his involvement with his big basketball club and also politics, but the last time I saw him he was very happy with the way we played against Liverpool.”