Hearts speak on Lawrence Shankland's Saudi interest, Odel Offiah, injuries and which new signings can face Rosenborg

Edinburgh club preparing to host Norwegians at Tynecastle
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Hearts are preparing to do without the injured midfielder Peter Haring against Rosenborg in Thursday’s European return leg. Recent signing Kenneth Vargas is unavailable because his work permit did not arrive in time to register him before the first leg, however Beni Baningime returns after a hamstring complaint and young midfielder Aidan Denholm could be involved.

“Peter rolled his ankle at the weekend,” explained the Hearts head coach, Frankie McAvoy, after Haring was pictured in a protective boot. “We will give him every opportunity right up until tomorrow to see how he is. Everyone else is in contention, including Beni Baningime. The only one missing is Kenneth [Vargas] because of the registration procedure. We had already submitted our guidelines. Denholm has done himself no harm, has he? Calem Nieuwenhof is in contention for that position as well. We are well covered.”

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Captain Lawrence Shankland is the subject of interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia and the English Championship, but McAvoy stressed the player has not asked to leave Tynecastle Park. Sporting director Joe Savage and technical director Steven Naismith are in charge of incoming and outgoing transfers.

“Joe and Naisy deal with recruitment and transfers. As far as I’m concerned, he [Shankland] hasn’t intimated to me that he wants to move on,” said McAvoy. “I’m not surprised if there is speculation regarding him because he’s a top player and he’s our captain. I would expect interest, if I’m honest, but nothing I’m aware of at the moment. He’s our captain and hopefully he is available to lead our line on Thursday.”

Another new arrival, Kyosuke Tagawa, is available to play along with Nieuwenhof despite missing the first leg against Rosenborg in Trondheim. Hearts are also keen to strengthen their defence with a loan deal for Brighton and Hove Albion’s Odel Offiah.

“We’ve looked at him,” said McAvoy. “He is a big, strong, powerful defender who is quick and he is one we are interested in getting through the door. Joe and Naisy will deal with the recruitment side of things but we like him and, if we can get him in here, we think he will be a good asset to the squad.”

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Hearts trail Rosenborg 2-1 from last week’s first leg of this Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie and aim to overhaul that deficit in front a packed crowd in Gorgie. “We need to win the game, whether that’s in 90 minutes, 120 minutes or with penalty-kicks,” said McAvoy. “We know the task ahead and we are a goal behind. We know where we got done last week with them hitting us in transitions. We need to be mindful of that.

Hearts coaches Frankie McAvoy, Gordon Forrest and Steven Naismith in the Tynecastle dugout. Pic: SNSHearts coaches Frankie McAvoy, Gordon Forrest and Steven Naismith in the Tynecastle dugout. Pic: SNS
Hearts coaches Frankie McAvoy, Gordon Forrest and Steven Naismith in the Tynecastle dugout. Pic: SNS

“Patience is probably a big thing we need from people within the stadium because they are a good team. We need to make sure that, in the big moments, we pick the right choices, the right pass, the right runs to hopefully get in behind them and create more scoring opportunities.

“It’s key that we don’t go too gung-ho and then get done on the counter-attack again. Before you know it, instead of a one-goal deficit you are chasing two and it becomes even more difficult. We know exactly what we need to do. We know how we are setting ourselves up.”