JUWON OSHANIWA will be one of the best left-backs in Scotland next season, according to Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson.
The Nigerian is still awaiting a Visa in his country’s capital, Abuja, but is ready to fly to Edinburgh as soon as the documents are processed.
Neilson expects him to be one of the standout full-backs in the Scottish Premiership once he completes his move to Tynecastle. Oshaniwa, 24, played every minute of Nigeria’s four matches at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil and has attracted interest from clubs in England. He believes joining Hearts can lead to a move to the English Premier League.
Hearts want him as their first-choice left-back ahead of Kevin McHattie and Neilson today explained the attributes Oshaniwa will offer.
“He’ll bring pace, he’ll bring power, he’ll be defensively good and he’ll be a good leader in the team,” said the head coach. “He’s someone the young players here are going to look up to. I think he’ll be one of the better left-backs in this league, that’s for sure. I’ve spoken to Juwon a couple of times. He seems keen to come here.
“He wants to come to Scotland and he sees it as a stepping stone to get himself down to England to a good level. A lot of the boys we have are like that – they want to make the next step. This is an opportunity for them to go and do that. Juwon is still waiting to get his Visa stamped over in Abuja. He’s over there waiting for the process to be completed. It can take anything between three and fifteen days. We’re now ten days in so we’re expecting him to get it pretty soon, to be honest. Hopefully there won’t be any hitches.”
Oshaniwa will have missed virtually all of Hearts’ pre-season preparations by the time he arrives in Scotland. He has been working by himself in Abuja and following a fitness programme sent to him by his new club.
“He’s doing a bit of fitness work by himself in Nigeria,” explained Neilson.
“John Hill, our sports scientist, sent him some fitness stuff to go and do on his own. Hopefully, he’s in decent condition. I don’t expect him to take too long to get up to speed but, obviously, he’s going to be a wee bit behind everyone else when he gets here.”