Revealed: Hearts fans’ player of the season so far

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Hearts fans were largely split between two individuals for their player of the season so far.

• READ MORE: Steven Naismith sure Hearts will be strong after break

Steven Naismith won the vote for Hearts' player of the season so far. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin

Steven Naismith won the vote for Hearts' player of the season so far. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin

Nearly 1,800 fans had their say with Steven Naismith edging Peter Haring for the largest percentage of the vote. The striker earned 34 per cent compared to the Austrian’s 31 per cent.

The duo were well out in front of their team-mates. John Souttar placed third with nine per cent of the vote, while Olly Lee and Uche Ikpeazu both got six per cent.

Since missing the Betfred Cup clash with Cove Rangers through suspension, Naismith has been an ever present in the side, playing every minute he has been available.

The 32-year-old is the club’s top scorer with nine goals in all competitions and sits top of the Ladbrokes Premiership scoring charts with five goals plus three assists.

The five best Hearts players this season as chosen by Evening News readers. Picture: Infogram

The five best Hearts players this season as chosen by Evening News readers. Picture: Infogram

His impact, however, has been more than just goals. Naismith has been an off-field leader, cajoling and encouraging team-mates, constantly in communication with colleagues and coaching staff.

The forward’s versatility has been of use to allow both Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu to develop a productive partnership. He has been used out wide on the left and right, as a second striker, as No.10 and as a central midfielder.

However, for a player who has been positioned as a forward for the majority of his career he has come alive in and around the box. No player has been more efficient at getting shots on target in the whole league - 60 per cent of his 18 shots.

Two specific instances highlight both his intelligence and ingenuity.

Firstly, his assist for Olly Lee in the 4-1 win over St Mirren, in which Naismith also netted a hat-trick. With the ball bouncing at an awkward height he strained his neck muscles and directed it into the path of his onrushing team-mate.

Secondly, the alertness he showed in picking up the loose ball to net the only goal of the game against Motherwell at Fir Park after Ikpeazu had won a 50-50 with Trevor Carson. Naismith showed the composure to pause, evade the despairing goalkeeper before netting.

His form for Hearts brought about an international recall with the player netting twice in his last four outings for Scotland.

Haring has been quite the find for the club. Originally recruited to play centre-back, a position he took up in the first two Betfred Cup matches, the Austrian soon found himself in the centre of the pitch.

An inauspicious start soon gave way to a prosperous partnership with Olly Lee. The 25-year-old has displayed his ability at being a destructive force in the midfield, winning 29.87 per cent of his defensive duels - the fifth best record in the league.

His biggest quality is his ability to read play and how it is developing, constantly first to loose or second balls. A valuable commodity in the general nature of Scottish football.

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