Hearts agree deal to sign Australian full-back Nathaniel Atkinson from Melbourne City

Hearts have agreed a deal to sign Australian right-back Nathaniel Atkinson from Melbourne City, the Evening News can reveal.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 5:10 pm
Melbourne City's Nathaniel Atkinson is close to joining Hearts.
Melbourne City's Nathaniel Atkinson is close to joining Hearts.

Terms are in place for the 22-year-old to arrive in Edinburgh as soon as he receives a UK work permit. The Scottish Football Association have already approved him for a visa and Hearts are now waiting for Government officials to do likewise.

Atkinson is an Australian Under-23 internationalist who played two of his country’s three matches at the summer Olympics in Japan. He is an energetic right-back who is comfortable operating as a wing-back and getting forward to deliver crosses from wide areas.

A key player in Melbourne City’s historic first A-League title success this year, he is now keen to further his career in Europe. City, managed by former Hearts defender Patrick Kisnorbo, have agreed to his departure.

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Atkinson is already well acquainted with the Hearts midfielder Cammy Devlin from their time in Australia and with the country’s Olympic squad.

Hearts have suffered at times this season when their established right-back Michael Smith has been absent. The Northern Irishman has just returned from a back complaint and was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Dundee at Dens Park.

Taylor Moore, the on-loan Bristol City centre-back, deputised for Smith on several occasions and put in some strong performances in an unfamiliar position. Atkinson’s signing will create stronger competition on the right side of defence, however.

Smith is out of contract this summer but has a clause in his existing deal which would trigger an extension if he makes a certain number of appearances during the season.

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