Government officials are still processing the Australian’s work permit after he agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract at Tynecastle Park. Paperwork is expected to be completed in the coming days, with Atkinson poised to fly in from Melbourne as soon as approval is granted.
He should then start training when the Hearts first-team squad resume sessions at Riccarton next Tuesday, January 11. Players were given time off with the Scottish Premiership on its winter break and will report back to the club’s training base next week.
Atkinson would not need to isolate in Scotland under current Covid 19 guidelines provided he tests negative on day two after arriving. He could then begin his Hearts career in earnest.
The Edinburgh club are paying Melbourne City an undisclosed fee for the 22-year-old defender, one of Australia’s emerging young talents and an Olympic team-mate of the Tynecastle midfielder Cammy Devlin.
He will compete for the right wing-back position alongside the experienced Michael Smith after teenager Cammy Logan joined Edinburgh City on loan earlier this week.
Atkinson is an energetic full-back who likes to attack and deliver crosses into the opposition penalty area. He was identified as a player who could fit into Hearts’ 3-4-3 formation on the right flank and a deal was agreed with Melbourne last month.
Hearts are also keen to sign another attacking player before the January transfer window closes after making an approach for the Japanese forward Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa.