Glenn Whelan’s prospective arrival would give Hearts’ midfield vital experience and hunger, according to captain Christophe Berra.
The Republic of Ireland internationalist is mulling over a move to Tynecastle Park and is expected to decide this week.
Berra hopes Hearts’ contract offer can tempt the 35-year-old to move north after leaving Aston Villa. He played 38 times as Villa secured promotion from the English Championship last season and also started three games for Ireland.
“I’m sure I would have played against him [in England] a few times,” said Berra. “If the deal happens then he is a very experienced player who sits there as the anchor in midfield. He has proven himself in his career throughout the years and his standing at club and international level is very high.
“It shows he still wants to play because he could quite easily retire now and that shows he still has a hunger to play and do well.”
Whelan would be in line for a Hearts debut at Tynecastle this weekend against Ross County should he agree to sign.
The Edinburgh club opened their Premiership season on Sunday with a 3-2 defeat at Aberdeen. Berra explained the task facing them against newly-promoted County.
“We are under no illusions that it will be a tough start. They have come up with a bit of momentum and have started well,” he said. “The good thing is that we know we are a good team and Tynecastle has been a bit of a fortress for us. We want to make sure we do it again and want to put a run together like we did a couple of seasons ago, when we went unbeaten.”
Aaron Hickey is suspended this weekend after a red card at Pittodrie. Berra told the 17-year-old not to be too dejected over the dismissal and backed him to recover quickly.
“Aaron knows he maybe shouldn’t have gone to ground then [on Niall McGinn]. He should have swotted him away but he will learn from that. He has been on fire recently and he will make mistakes but he will learn from them.
“He shouldn’t get too down because he has a bright future ahead of him. In sport, in general, there are a lot of ups and downs. It’s how you deal with them but he is a very grounded lad. I’m sure his family will be grounded as well and the club will also make sure he has all the support he needs for his development.”
Having recovered from an eye injury, striker Conor Washington could make his Hearts league debut on Saturday. “Washington is a very clever player and has got great movement. He picks up good positions, is good on the ball and creates chances. He is a very mobile striker,” said Berra.