Happy at Hearts, but Steven Naismith feels like a caged canary

Steven Naismith admits to feeling a hint of frustration over his current predicament.

Saturday, 31st March 2018, 6:30 am
Steven Naismith at training

The 31-year-old Scotland internationalist has enjoyed his loan stint at Hearts thus far and has already intimated that he would be open to making the move to Tynecastle on a more permanent basis. The player is keen to move his family back to Scotland after six years in England, and Hearts are determined to sign him.

The only fly in the ointment is that he still has another year left on a lucrative contract at Norwich City, where he is currently out of the plans. A move to Edinburgh is likely to hinge on whether or not a satisfactory agreement can be reached with his parent club, although a swift outcome is unlikely. Naismith, keen to have an idea of where he will be playing his football at the start of next season, admits the situation is not ideal.

“For as laidback a person as I am, it’s actually a frustrating position to be in because this situation is not totally in my hands,” said the former Kilmarnock, Rangers and Everton forward. “I am enjoying every minute of being at Hearts and being back in Scotland but there is nothing definitive I can say right now.

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“I have a year left of my contract at Norwich and I have not had any conversations with them with regard to what they want to do. The general consensus is they are going to go with a younger squad next season and if that is the case then I would assume I am not in their plans.

“Hearts have made it clear that if there was the possibility to do something then they would like to and I do appreciate that and everything they have done for me. They have given me the chance to get back playing and I have enjoyed every minute of my time here so far. I have so much respect for everyone at the club. But is is hard for me to commit to anything when I don’t know what Norwich want to do. I’m sure things will get sorted eventually. It’s just a little frustrating as I have never been in this position before.”

Naismith has scored two goals in ten appearances since joining Hearts in January and is gradually starting to find his stride. “It’s been great,” he said. “It’s been difficult in the sense that I have had to adapt to playing up here once again. We also have a really young squad and I have had to learn how to help the younger boys we have here by talking them through things and giving little pointers here and there. I have really enjoyed that and I know it is going to help me in the future if I look to go down the coaching or management side of things.

“I had a bit of a hamstring problem not long after I came back up but I think that was mainly down to not having played for so long and then playing a number of games in a short space of time. But this last international break was a big help to me in getting over that and it is no longer an issue for me, which is good.”

Hearts travel to struggling Dundee tomorrow knowing that victory will all but secure their place in the top six. “Over the last month we’ve had chances to secure that top six spot and not quite managed to do it, which is a little frustrating,” said Naismith. “But the performance in the last game against Partick gave everyone a lot of confidence and we just want to build on that now. We have been string defensively for a lot of the season without maybe being as good at the other end. But we managed to a lot of work during the international break going forward and there were times when I could see things really start to come together in an attacking sense.

“Dundee will be a difficult test. They are in a tough spot but I don’t think their results have reflected how well they have played this season. It has been fine margins. They like to play football, they are not a team who lumps the ball forward, they have decent players and we need to be wary of that. If we are not at our best, then there’s no doubt they have the ability to hurt us.”