Hearts midfielder Jorge Grant is seeking a new home as he explains taking a major step with his family
One year into a three-year Hearts contract, Jorge Grant is about to put down firm roots in Edinburgh. The midfielder will spend the summer house-hunting to enable his partner and toddler son to move north from England. He sees his family’s future in Scotland’s Capital and his footballing career continuing at Tynecastle Park.
This interview is delayed to let him view one of the properties on his list. He is determined to conduct due diligence and research before making what is a major decision. Although this season has been frustrating in some ways with Grant keen to start more matches for Hearts, it has not dissuaded him from staying on.
He arrived from Peterborough United last summer and managed 38 appearances so far this term. There are two games remaining – Rangers away tonight followed by Hibs at home on Saturday – before a hectic summer flit begins. “I’ve done half and half with the missus this year and she has been visiting. We spoke about it before, so we have the summer to plan and then she is going to come up with the little man. That will be great for me,” said Grant.
“As soon as you go into the training ground, you just concentrate on the football stuff, but it will just be nice having life at home back to normal as it was prior to this season. I did see that happening eventually. I could tell when I came up and visited the club that I wanted to be here long-term anyway. I have definitely enjoyed this year so it’s something we are looking forward to, moving up and having a fresh start up here.”
That fresh start will also involve a new permanent Hearts manager. Steven Naismith’s interim stint has seen the team’s playing style change, but Grant has not yet established himself as a regular starter. Discussions with Naismith outlined where he can expect to fit in when called upon.
“When we spoke, we talked about the positions he sees me playing,” explained Grant. “We played with a No.10 in the first game, but since then Shanks [Lawrence Shankland] has played as a nine/ten. With the way him and Gino [Josh Ginnelly] have been playing, it’s understandable that I’m not playing off the striker at the moment. They have been unbelievable this season. When I get the opportunity to come off the bench, I need to try and effect the game and then try to turn that into starts.”
Although Grant can operate in a wide left role, Naismith’s view is that he is more of a central midfielder. “I think it’s more central,” said the player. “He didn’t really speak to me about the left, although I finished there on Saturday because we had a little bit of pressure towards the end. It’s mostly been about me playing off the striker and sometimes being one of the two deeper midfielders to play forward passes.”
Any positive impact Grant can have on Hearts’ final two matches will be well received. They want a result at Rangers to keep pressure on Aberdeen following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Pittodrie club at Tynecastle. “Saturday was an important result to get us a bit closer to Aberdeen. It’s important we start fast against Rangers,” said Grant.
“I’m enjoying it just now, training has been good, the intensity and fluidity with the way he [Naismith] wants to attack. We are starting to get used to that, which is coming through in the games. You saw the number of shots we had at the weekend.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Ibrox is like and soaking it up. I was suspended the last time we went there. Hopefully we put in a good performance. We can take a lot of belief from Saturday, we will try to attack but also stay strong defensively and not concede the first goal. We have had to come back in our last two games so it’s important we keep a clean sheet.”
That suspension he refers to is part of Grant’s disappointment from his first year in Scotland. Two red cards before the World Cup break left the Englishman on the sidelines looking in just as he was starting to cement a midfield place. He is far from a dirty player but found himself twice walking up the tunnel in frustration. It was a harsh lesson to learn.
There have also been plenty high points, however. “In terms of starting games, I would like to have played more. I’ve been involved in nearly every game, though. I’m normally one of the first subs to come on so that’s good. It’s been amazing seeing how big Hearts are and how passionate the fans are about how we play. We have a great group of lads and being part of that has helped. This is the first time I’ve been far away from home.
“The red cards were the most disappointing thing. I was just getting a run in the team after joining and then getting sent off against Zurich stalled it. I got back in and then came another red card against Motherwell. It’s something I can learn from but it’s the first time that has happened in my career. Going more than 300 games and then getting a couple of reds isn’t too bad. Hopefully I won’t be in that position again in the future.”