Liam Boyce explains why he is happy at Hearts and what he needs for the new season
Liam Boyce will shoulder much of the responsibility for goals until Hearts can bring in another striker and knows exactly what he needs to be ready when the season starts.
“It’s all about getting sharper mentally and getting into areas,” explained the 31-year-old after he got off the mark in the 5-0 pre-season demolition of Bonnyrigg Rose at Tynecastle Park.
Boyce was unable to convert back-to-back opportunities in the first half, first when Stephen Kingsley flashed in a cross that was just out of reach and then having a close-range header well saved by Bonnyrigg keeper Mark Weir. But he persevered and got his reward in the 77th minute when Alan Forrest slipped in the overlapping Michael Smith, who cut back for his countryman to fire home unmarked from close range.
“I got into the right area,” Boyce explained. “I just need to keep getting into those areas and the goals will come. It just bounced in front of me and it was a sort of easy finish.
“I thought in the first half we played some good football and had some chances that we didn’t take.
“In pre pre-season, you're a bit rusty but it's all about building. We don’t have the cup games this year, so we’ve got a few friendlies to sharpen things up.
“You only have about three weeks off, so at the start of pre season it feels you can't even kick a ball right. But even this week you can feel yourself getting better, getting sharper and getting back to yourself.
“It’s just getting into positions and the rewards come. I'll keep doing it.”
With Ellis Simms having returned to Everton in the summer and no replacement yet, Boyce has been the go-to central striker during the four pre-season games so far.
Boyce is entering the final year of his contract and was the subject of summer transfer speculation last month, with Aberdeen and Ipswich Town both credited with interest in his services, but he made it clear that he is very happy at Tynecastle Park. Nothing has changed.
“I always said, at any team, If I’m wanted, I’m happy and I feel that here,” he added. “I’m happy, 100 per cent.”