Hearts still want Manchester United’s Demetri Mitchell back at Tynecastle next season despite signing the Australian full-back Ben Garuccio.
Manager Craig Levein believes Garuccio’s style is similar to Mitchell’s but hopes United will again loan their defender to the Edinburgh club. Levein intends to carry two left-backs in his first-team squad and was pleased with Mitchell after loaning him from Old Trafford in January. Injury interrupted his progress but he proved himself a useful attacking full-back in 11 Hearts appearances. Levein must wait until late summer before learning whether Mitchell can return after his pre-season commitments at United. The manager has already made it clear he covets another deal for the Englishman.
“We needed two left-backs anyway and both of them can play further forward. We only have Ben for now. We don’t have another left-sided left-back at the club,” Levein said.
“Demi’s situation is out of our control. It looks like he’s going to America with Man United so it will be well into July before we know what’s going on. I couldn’t afford to put all my eggs in that basket.”
Garuccio, 22, signed a three-year deal with Hearts last week after leaving the Australian club Adelaide United on freedom of contract. He is from the same mould as Mitchell, according to Levein.
“I really like him. He’s a forward-thinking player, much like Demetri,” explained the manager. “He crosses the ball a lot and he’s quick with good stamina. He isn’t 6ft tall but, with Christophe Berra on that side of the pitch, it’s much the same situation as with Demi. Christophe is like one-and-a-half defenders, so that allows us to be a bit more adventurous on that side.
“I thought Demi was our left-back solution already so our last experience in that position was very positive. It’s finding somebody who can compare and match up to Demi’s qualities because he was ideal for us. I feel Ben can do that.
“He has played a lot of games and I know a good bit about his character. Aaron Hughes played with him in Australia and [former Hearts defender] Paddy Kisnorbo worked with him as well. It was quite easy to find out about him and I’m really pleased with his character. When I met him, I was delighted with his approach and his attitude. I’m looking forward to working with him.”