Latest on Scott Fraser's move to Hearts after a medical - plus Kenneth Vargas' future

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Charlton Athletic midfielder is close to completing a loan switch to Edinburgh

Hearts are hopeful that Scott Fraser's move to Gorgie will still go through despite an unexpected delay at Charlton Athletic's end. Tynecastle officials are working to ensure Fraser's club sign off a loan deal until the end of the season so that he can be registered with the Scottish Football Association.

He arrived in Edinburgh over the weekend and underwent a medical at Riccarton with terms already verbally agreed on the loan. His capture would reinforce the Hearts midfield after Andy Halliday moved on loan to Motherwell and Alex Lowry returned to parent club Rangers. Barrie McKay is also sidelined with a knee injury so 28-year-old Fraser would add some experience.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As of Monday evening, Charlton officials had still to sign off the agreement to finalise Fraser's departure. Hearts are hopeful it will be done as soon as possible but it remains to be seen if that will be in time for the player to be involved against Dundee on Tuesday.

"I think it's an area of the pitch where we lack a bit of experience in that final third," explained Steven Naismith, the Hearts head coach. "That's one of the biggest things I've noticed. He brings that. He's a great age, had a great career in England. He was a big prospect at Dundee United and then moved and had a good career in England at a good level.

"He's a goal threat. His assists and vision in the final part of the pitch is important. I think he will be a good addition if we can get it sorted. It's the paperwork side and office side of stuff. He has been in, had a medical, been around and said he is ready to go. It's more just the process rather than anything else. It's a loan till the summer and he has another year left [on his Charlton contract]."

Having played at Burton Albion, MK Dons, Ipswich Town and Charlton since leaving formative club Dundee United in 2018, Fraser is keen to return to Scottish football. "Let's see how he does," smiled Naismith when asked about the prospect of a permanent transfer. "Even at Burton he was one of the main players. He has played with [Liam] Boycie but on the football side he has really good quality.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There is also the character and the person. He is a really good experienced pro who wants to be better and always wants to improve. I think that has shown in his career with the level he's gone to. He has taken the next step all the time. It's a good opportunity for us to get somebody like him." The Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland could feature against Dundee after returning to training at Riccarton on Monday. He missed Saturday's Scottish Cup victory over Spartans through illness. "He trained today so he's back involved in the squad. Boyce is back training but not involved. Cammy Devlin is not involved as he's training individually."

Winger McKay will be absent for a number of weeks yet. "He is in a brace till the end of the month so that will dictate his return," stated Naismith. "You are probably looking at the second half of February at the quickest before he is back involved."

Among those stepping up for Hearts in the absence of more experienced colleagues is the Costa Rican winger Kenneth Vargas. He struck three goals in his last three competitive games before and after the winter break - and four in four including last week's closed-door friendly against Kilmarnock.

The 21-year-old is on loan from CS Herediano until the end of the season in a deal which also includes a purchase option. A permanent transfer to Tynecastle looks more and more likely with each passing week. "He is a big prospect. He is somebody I think brings value to us," explained Naismith. "If it's something that can be done, I'm sure we will look at it. He has good attributes that are hard to find in forwards, never mind young prospects.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I think people forget his age. He's young, the natural ability, the characteristics of him as a player are more beyond his years. The way he uses his body and how his touch is, stuff like that. He has probably been inconsistent in the first half of the season until the end there [before the break] and he's picked up. Confidence does a lot of things for you. He's full of confidence. He's shown that and he's now scoring goals which is a big part of what people define whether he is good or not.

"I think he has a more natural striker mindset and mentality. The way he plays when the ball goes wide, he wants to get in the box. He doesn't want to hang wide. But I think he can play wide. Against Rosenborg or PAOK at home, you could see he was very dangerous one-v-one but I prefer having players who can do that and understand that. Going back to his age and experience, he has picked up these different things that you need in each position and for such a young guy it's a really good trait to have."

Naismith could decide to change goalkeeper against Dundee. Craig Gordon returned from a 13-month injury absence against Spartans and it remains to be seen if Zander Clark will be recalled for Tuesday. Naismith stressed it is not a selection headache for him.

"No, because we have all spoken about it and all understand where everybody is and what it is going to be like going forward. There is no real issue. It is two experienced guys who are understanding. From my point of view, all I can be is honest and that's what we've been."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gordon will not specifically be used for cup ties to allow Clark to play league games. "There is not going to be one for one [competition] and one for the other," added Naismith. "It will be down to how well you are doing and how well you are performing. It's ultimately what it will come down to. 

"I think in the last month Zander has taken his game to another level. I think a big part is down to the competition for places. For Zander, who has come through his career at St Johnstone and been No.1 for a long time, the pressure comes and he's had to push on. He's shown he's done that and he's a really good goalie. We are in a fortunate position where we have two good guys who are really good goalies, both will want to go to the Euros [with Scotland] and I've said consistently I think both give themselves a chance."

Dundee's visit evokes memories of the last meeting between the clubs at Dens Park, when the hosts won 1-0. "It was disappointing that day. We didn't do enough in possession to hurt them," acknowledged Naismith. "We had a few chances and didn't take them. We need more of a threat. The goal we lose is poor from our point of view.

"Dundee have come into the league and, from knowing Tony [Docherty] as a coach, they aren't happy just to survive. They want to get better and I think they have shown that as a club. We know it will be tough. It's about how quick we start, how much pressure we put them under, especially at Tynecastle. After the break, hopefully we will be fresh enough that we can get that tempo right."

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.