Conor Sammon will have a final chance to resurrect his Hearts career this summer and convince manager Craig Levein he should stay.
The striker will report to Riccarton in June after his season-long loan at Partick Thistle ends. Levein is ready to give him the chance to earn a place in Hearts’ first-team squad for next season before deciding his future.
Sammon arrived at Tynecastle from Derby County in 2016 and signed a three-year contract, which is about to enter its final year. He could not command regular game time under previous head coaches Robbie Neilson and Ian Cathro. Consequently, he has spent much of the past two campaigns out on loan, first at Kilmarnock and then Thistle. The Irishman, now 31, has scored nine times in 30 appearances at Firhill since last August.
Levein replaced Cathro just weeks after Sammon began his loan spell there and will welcome the forward back this summer. The manager intends to monitor him at close quarters when Hearts begin their pre-season programme.
“Conor will come back for pre-season training and we’ll assess him and see what happens,” said Levein, adding that full-back Liam Smith is in the same situation once his St Mirren loan finishes.
“Liam will also come back in the summer. We will reassess him and see how he’s doing.”
Both players face stiff competition for places back at their parent club. Sammon will find new signings Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu, plus Kyle Lafferty, Aidan Keena and Rory Currie all fighting to play up front.
Smith has just won the Championship title with St Mirren and is wanted for a longer stay by manager Jack Ross. He will return to Hearts to compete with namesake Michael and Marcus Godinho at right-back, with Jamie Brandon also in the frame once he recovers from a cruciate ligament injury.