Perry Kitchen intends to fight for a midfield place immediately after joining Hearts on a two-and-a-half-year contract.
The American completed his move to Tynecastle yesterday, pending international clearance, and admitted he is itching to get his career in Scotland underway.
He attended all three Hearts matches last week as wins over Kilmarnock, Inverness and Partick Thistle helped the club’s pursuit of second-placed Aberdeen in the league.
Kitchen said head coach Robbie Neilson and the surroundings at Riccarton impressed him and he is now eager to impose himself on the first team. Provided international clearance arrives in time, he could make his debut against Dundee at Dens Park on Saturday.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” he said, speaking to the club website. “The team is doing very well so it’s not going to be easy. All I can do is work hard, try to fight my way in, and it’s up to Robbie to decide what’s best for the team. My wife and I have seen three games already. It’s unbelievable, a great environment and great fans. I’m definitely looking forward to playing in front of the supporters.
“The training facility is great and with the new improvements it’s going to be top class. Edinburgh is beautiful with the castle, the city and Princes Street. It’s what you want out of a city.
“When I first got here he [Neilson] showed me everything. He explained how the team is and how they like to play. I was impressed with everything. It was all the right things I was hearing. I think of myself as a hard-working guy, someone who does what he can for the team. I’m looking forward to contributing however Robbie sees fit. I just go out and try to do my thing, play well for the team and do what I can to help this team win.”
The 24-year-old hasn’t played a competitive fixture since finishing the MLS season with former club DC United on November 8 last year. He was part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national squad for friendly matches against Canada and Iceland last month, but only managed two minutes against the Canadians.
Nonetheless, he is confident he will adapt quickly to Scottish football. “I’m coming off the US camp that ended about a month ago. I feel like I’m still in pretty good fitness form,” he continued. “It’s obviously different doing your own thing as it is to being in a training environment. It’ll take a bit of time but I think it’ll happen pretty quickly.
“It feels great. It’s been a long time coming, just getting everything sorted but I’m very excited to be here and I can’t wait to get started. It wasn’t frustrating [waiting for a new club] but it’s definitely tested my patience. These things always take a little longer than you think. I’m just excited it’s finally done and I’m ready to get going.”
Hearts first contacted Kitchen last month and he felt he would enhance his chances of being selected by Klinsmann by moving to Europe. “He’s always going to pick the guys he sees can help the team. If I’m on his radar, then great. I hope so. It starts here.
“I can only control what I do for this club. Hopefully that catches his eye and leads to better things. Given my age, it just felt like the right time to make a jump to Europe. I think this is a great place to be, a great place to start, for sure.”