Steven Naismith reveals lessons on injury recovery as he returns to lift Hearts' standards

Scotland striker admitted he tried to return from hamstring problem too soon

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 6:00 am
Steven Naismith returned from injury for Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday

Hearts striker Steven Naismith finally feels fully recovered from injury after trying to return too soon taught him valuable lessons.

The Scotland internationalist was desperate to play earlier this season as his club toiled for results, but the impatience merely set him back when his hamstring problem recurred in September.

After two months out, he finally reappeared as a substitute in Sunday’s Betfred Cup defeat by Rangers.

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“It was really frustrating, hency why I have come back a couple of times and tried to get involved when I just wasn’t right,” said Naismith. “That has cost me the first couple of months of the season which is disappointing, but now that I feel good I can push on. The last month has been a good programme for me to build up. I have done that and now I am excited to play in games.”

The hamstring became persistent but, after rest and some extensive treatment, Naismith is confident the issue will not resurface.

“That’s it okay. That was the plan, that I would come back into the squad with a view to playing half an hour or in the second half against Rangers. I have learned my lesson,” he said.

“With muscle injuries it can feel great, but there’s no way you can replicate being out on the pitch and your mind on the game rather than your body and you maybe overstretch or something like that.

“These are things you have got to gauge but we put a plan in place for the last month to make sure I could get over as many hurdles as I could.”

Naismith and his Hearts team-mates must now impress a new manager after Craig Levein’s sacking.

“Some of the boys will see it as a new chance to impress whoever comes in. Others will worry or whatever but we have a group of older boys here who won’t let standards drop, who will push the rest and let them know what’s expected.

“It’s not been good enough, simple as that. The squad is good and a new manager is going to come in, whoever it may be, and inherit a lot of good signings that’s been made by Craig Levein.

“Now we have to go and push on and I still have high hopes we can push up the league and do something in the second half of the season. First of all, from now until Christmas, we need to pick up as many points as we can.”

That starts on Saturday against St Mirren at Tynecastle Park under the ongoing guidance of interim manager Austin MacPhee. Both clubs sit joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership after 11 matches.

“It’s big because of where we are at but I don’t think it’s anywhere near a relegation battle just now,” insisted Naismith. “The focus now until the winter break is on picking up as many points as possible.

“Too many games have passed us by in terms of not having an impact in both boxes, losing too many silly goals and that’s what we have to cut out first of all. We also need to get back to dominating games, especially at Tynecastle. It can be such an intimidating place for teams and that’s what we need to get back to.”

A new manager will not be in before the weekend.

“No, I would be surprised if that happens. It’s the time to make the right call and not a quick call. There are enough experienced boys in there who won’t let the standards drop or think ‘it’s an uncertain period so I can do what I want’. That won’t be happening and we will work hard for the game coming up.”