Beni Baningime and Liam Boyce injury update as Hearts speak about their move for Kenneth Vargas

Steven Naismith explained the injury situation and why Vargas appeals to Tynecastle management
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Incoming Hearts signing Kenneth Vargas will need time to adapt in Scotland, but the club intend to give him a long assimilation period if required. The Costa Rican forward is poised to travel to Edinburgh within the next week to 10 days, depending on exactly when paperwork arrives for his six-figure transfer from CS Heradiano.

He will join Kyosuke Tagawa as a new attacking recruit at Tynecastle Park. Steven Naismith, the Hearts technical director, spoke for the first time about Vargas and the attributes he will bring. “He is very direct, he's a goal threat and he's got pace. He is an exciting young player,” said Naismith. “This will be his first time playing in Europe so there will be time needed to make sure he is settled but I think he can bring real value to the squad.”

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Tagawa could appear in Saturday’s opening Premiership match against St Johnstone if his documents and clearance are finalised in time. Vargas is unlikely to be ready by that stage. Striker Liam Boyce and midfielder Beni Baningime both returned this summer after long absences with cruciate knee ligament injuries and are gradually easing themselves back into action. Hearts will assess them ahead of the weekend after both sat out Sunday’s final pre-season friendly against Leeds United.

“The hard part is that they’ve been out for so long. They’ve both come through pre-season really well,” said Naismith. “Boycie came off the other night [against Mansfield Town] just because he was feeling fatigued and you don’t want to push it.

“Beni got 90 minutes the other night. That was probably longer in terms of playing and being competitive in the game. We wanted to give him the 90 minutes to push on. He was burst by the end of it but I think it was more valuable than replacing him and having more of a threat in the game.

“He is in and around the squad, available for selection. Boyce will come back into training as well. We’re still monitoring them. You can’t let them just come back into a pre-season then shoot up or they’ll break down. They’re both in a good place.”

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Hearts will learn their European opponents on Thursday after the second leg of the Europa Conference League second qualifying round between Rosenborg and Crusaders in Trondheim. “I think both teams have their own qualities,” explained Naismith. “From watching the [first] game, it’s two different styles – they are going to cause you different threats.

Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime are gradually returning to full fitness at Hearts. Pic: SNSLiam Boyce and Beni Baningime are gradually returning to full fitness at Hearts. Pic: SNS
Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime are gradually returning to full fitness at Hearts. Pic: SNS

“Going into the second leg, both teams will think they have a chance so we’re not going to sit here and think it’s more likely to be one than the other. With the contrast in styles, it is really 50/50.”

Hearts have also been drawn to play Partick Thistle at Tynecastle in the Viaplay Cup second round on Sunday, August 20. “We’re pleased it’s a home tie. For most competitions that’s the big thing,” remarked Naismith. “It will be a tough game, they finished last season well without getting the rewards for it. I know Kris [Doolan] well, I know how he works and he’s got them well organised. They will be a threat but hopefully we’ll be in a good stride by that point that we can be confident.”