How has Hearts transfer target Liam Boyce fared since leaving Scottish football in 2017?

Jambos are one of a string of clubs keen on the 28-year-old Northern Ireland international

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 3:17 pm
Liam Boyce shields the ball from Leicester City defender Wes Morgan during a Carabao Cup tie at the Pirelli Stadium
Liam Boyce shields the ball from Leicester City defender Wes Morgan during a Carabao Cup tie at the Pirelli Stadium

Hearts are interested in Burton Albion striker Liam Boyce, who has six months left on his Brewers contract. Here's a quick look back at his career so far - and how he has fared since leaving Scottish football in 2017...

Northern Ireland to Scotland via... Germany?

A prolific hitman with Northern Irish side Cliftonville, Boyce attracted attention after netting 70 goals and notching 27 assists in just 130 games for the Reds. However, his haul was split over two spells. He had an ultimately unsuccessful trial with Celtic in 2010, and held talks with German side Greuther Furth. When the move fell through, he agreed a deal to join Werder Bremen in August 2010 but departed 13 months later having made just three appearances for the club's reserve side.

Sign up to our Hearts newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In January 2011 he was called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad and, ironically, made his debut against Scotland in the Nations Cup tournament on February 9.

Boyce returned to Cliftonville in January 2012, and replicated the form that had earned him plaudits during his first spell at Solitude, helping Cliftonville to a first league title since 1998. His 29 goals over the course of the season earned him the 2012/13 Ulster Footballer of the Year award and the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Player of the Year prize. He scored 21 goals as Cliftonville retained the league flag the following year but in June 2014 agreed a pre-contract deal with Ross County.

A wanted man in Scottish football

Boyce showed no sign of slowing down when he swapped Belfast for Dingwall, and hit the Staggies' first ever top-flight hat-trick in a 3-0 win at St Mirren in April 2015. He maintained his form during the 2015/16 season, scoring 17 goals in 24 games and signed a new deal in February 2016. He ended the 2016/17 season as the Scottish Premiership's top scorer, with a final total of 23 goals - ahead of Celtic duo Scott Sinclair (21) and Moussa Dembele (17) - and hit four in a 4-0 win over rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle in April 2017.

Hearts and Hibs were both linked with a move for Boyce in late spring, along with a clutch of unnamed Championship and League One sides.

Burton get Boyce

Burton Albion eventually won the race for the player's signature, signing him for a club record £500,000 in the summer of 2017 after his 48 goals in 99 games for County. However, Boyce missed 28 games of the 2017/18 Championship season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during pre-season training.

When he made his return to action as a 72nd minute substitute in a match away to Aston Villa, he netted his first goal for the Brewers in a 3-2 loss.

He returned to form during the 2018/19 season, with the side relegated to League One, and finished the season as joint-top scorer with fellow striker Lucas Akins, with the pair netting 14 goals apiece.

Boyce has so far netted 12 goals and registered two assists in 29 games in all competitions for Burton, including six in the league and five in the EFL Trophy. Nigel Clough's side currently sit 14th in League One, six points off the play-off places.

He netted his first hat-trick for the club in late August - with all three goals coming from inside the six-yard box.

Boyce isn't too far away from Tynecastle even at the Pirelli Stadium, with former Jambos Ryan Edwards and David Templeton on the Brewers' books.

In his own words

Speaking after he netted against Oldham Athletic, Boyce told the Derby Telegraph: “I need to get it into my head that if I get into those positions [in the six-yard box] the ball can hit you and go in.

"They’re the best goals as a striker. I’d rather score 20 of them in a season than ten screamers and I just need to keep it going now. I love getting in the box and those are the best goals to score."