'I'll have a word' - Hearts' Andy Halliday speaks on potential Steven Naismith retirement
Such is Steven Naismith’s standing in the game, it is no surprise that talk of retirement from the veteran Hearts forward has been met with disapproval.
It is not so long ago that the 34-year-old was playing up front for Scotland, scoring goals and being a menace to top-flight defences north and south of the border. But, in accepting that his chances of making Euro 2020 are over earlier this week, Naismith also revealed that he is considering whether to carry on next season. He has started a coaching role at Tynecastle and admits that his body aches a little more than it used to.
His Hearts team-mate Andy Halliday hopes his captain will hang around for another season in Scotland’s top flight. Now back in the Premiership, Halliday wants as many experienced pros as possible within the group to make sure they hit the ground running next term. Moreover, the ex-Rangers and Norwich player still has the guile and quality to make an impact, as shown by his goal and cameo off the bench as Hearts completed their Championship campaign with a thumping 4-0 win over Raith Rovers on Friday evening.
“Absolutely I’m hoping he continues,” exclaimed Halliday when asked about talk of Naismith’s retirement. “I’m sure there will be quite a few folk in there having a quiet word with him. Not only does he bring quality but you can never undervalue experience.
“You look at him and [goalkeeper] Craig Gordon, they’ve played at the highest level, played for their country and won medals. You can’t underestimate how much that brings to a team. We’ve got quite a lot of young boys in there. No doubt they look at players like Steven Naismith and Craig Gordon every single day and see how hard they train and what they need to be to be a top footballer at the top level. Fingers crossed, I’ll sit and have a couple of words with him over the next couple of weeks to give us one more year at least.”
Halliday has been part of a Hearts team that has finished the season with a flourish after a horrendous shock Scottish Cup exit to Brora and some iffy league performances. They kept five clean sheets in a row and chalked up the goals. The 29-year-old spelled out the importance of ending on a high.
"The objective was to get Hearts back in the top flight at the first time of asking and we’re delighted to do that,” Halliday added. “Now it’s all guns blazing for next year now.
“It’s momentum that you want to carry into next year and as players you want to show you’re ready for the cause next year.
“Of course we know we’re going into a better league and it’s a step and as player we need to show we’re more than capable of stepping up.
“We’ve always believed in the quality we’ve got in the squad and I think we’ve shown that in the last two games.
Our attackers were scoring goals, we were doing well at the back and kept clean sheets. If you’re going to be batter level you need to be harder to beat than we were February to March and I think we started to show that.”