Liam Boyce to be handed an important role in Hearts' future

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Riccarton coaches want to utilise the Northern Irishman's knowledge

Liam Boyce is poised to play a key role in Hearts' future by helping the club develop younger players. Coaches want the striker to pass on his footballing experience and intelligence to those emerging from the Riccarton youth academy.

At 32, Boyce has played for clubs in his native Northern Ireland, Germany, England and Scotland, as well as amassing 28 caps for his country. He is contracted to Hearts until summer 2024 and the club have the option to extend that agreement by 12 months.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It would be a major surprise if they chose not to do so. Boyce is back in the starting line-up at Tynecastle Park and played an important role in Saturday's winning goal against St Johnstone. His shot clipped the leg of team-mate Lawrence Shankland en route to the net, resulting in Shankland being credited with the strike.

Boyce's impact in Hearts' three consecutive league wins against Livingston, Motherwell and St Johnstone impressed head coach Steven Naismith. He explained why the player will have a big part to play in the long term.

"I think his natural position is just off a striker," said Naismith. "Boycie has probably played as a striker most of his career and had to learn about leaning in with your body, getting cheap fouls, getting yourself in between the defender and the ball.

"His natural game is being in that space. You see how he can drop a shoulder and he's got really quick feet for a big guy. He also has great composure. Because he has learned over the years how to play as a striker, he can do that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He is at the very start of that next phase where he has a pride and an enjoyment of passing all that on and leading a team - how to manage a game, when a ball is not on, when to keep it. He can pass that on to all the younger guys.

"Throughout our squad, we've got a really young main group with potential. They are not always going to be on it but they've got a right good chance of being better. Boycie will pass on so much to them."

Boyce only returned this season after a year out with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. Naismith was conscious not to depend on him too much during the initial reintroduction phase.

"It's always tricky. My relationship with Boycie firstly was as a player. We were a partnership up front for a bit of time," he recalled. "I was conscious this season when he was coming back from his knee injury - I understand because I've been there coming back from the exact same injury - there were going to be moments when he is feeling brilliant and showing up brilliantly. Then there were going to be moments when everything is a grind.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I spoke to him through those periods. Like any experienced pro, he wants to play all the time. As a coach, it's your job to explain things as well as you can and hope he trusts what you are telling him. He has had a big impact on our last three games, which I always believed would happen. Boycie is really valuable to this squad. He has the experience, he is very settled, and he is somebody we want to continue being here. He is playing a big part."

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.