Hearts manager Craig Levein intends to give teenager Aidan Keena a chance in the first team after recalling him from Dunfermline. The Irish striker’s season-long loan was cut short because Levein feels he offers different qualities to Hearts’ other forwards.
Keena, 19, scored four goals in 12 games for Dunfermline and will now compete for an attacking place at Tynecastle Park alongside Steven Naismith, Steven MacLean, Uche Ikpeazu and new signing David Vanecek.
He could be involved in Sunday’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Livingston. “Aidan has come back in because he did well at Dunfermline and I’ll maybe look to use him in the second part of the season,” Levein told the Evening News.
“We don’t really have anybody else like him. That’s the reason I brought him back in. He is a little bit different from the other forwards. He has scored a few goals recently and looks like he is playing with a bit of confidence and swagger. I’m sure that, between now and the end of the season, he will get plenty opportunities to play.”
Several other players are also back at Riccarton following loan spells. Midfielder Malaury Martin left Dunfermline with Keena, fellow midfielder Andy Irving returned from Falkirk, defender Chris Hamilton is back from Berwick Rangers, goalkeeper Kevin Silva left Raith Rovers, while winger Lewis Moore is back from Forfar.
It remains to be seen if some of the above are loaned out again before the January transfer window closes, or if any will be able to force their way into Levein’s plans. Dario Zanatta is to stay at Alloa until the end of the season. He and Moore have extended their Hearts contracts until May 2020.
“Andy Irving has done well at Falkirk,” added Levein. “They are still unsure whether they’re going to take him back on loan again for the second half of the season, but I think playing there has improved him.
“Dario Zanatta has gone back out on loan. I was looking at bringing him back but I thought, if he isn’t going to get game time, I’d be as well to leave him where he is. He has improved quite a lot at Alloa and hopefully he kicks on again.”
Young strikers Euan Henderson and Rory Currie will remain out on loan until the summer at Montrose and East Fife respectively.