Steven Naismith outlines what Hearts can get from 'infectious' Liam Boyce

The Northern Irish striker returned from injury in midweek

Steven Naismith is confident Liam Boyce will be an important player for Hearts next season after welcoming the striker back from injury. A hamstring problem requiring surgery sidelined Boyce since December and he returned to competitive football as a substitute at St Mirren on Wednesday night.

Naismith, head coach at Tynecastle Park, is a huge admirer of the 33-year-old. After a full pre-season programme this summer, he believes he can get more out of Boyce next term. “It’s been a long road,” said Naismith. “He had that spell in the season where he showed how valuable he is to us. Even on Wednesday you can tell he’s so intelligent with his positions and the drop of the shoulder. He can manipulate the ball without touching it that sends defenders off.

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“It’s great to get him back on the pitch. This is all a bonus for next season. It’s brilliant for him. He’s somebody who’s an experienced head, leading a group and brilliant with everybody even when he’s out. He’s a brilliant character to have around.

“You hear from other players that he’s an infectious character. He’s very funny and has a good nature about him. He’ll understand that if someone is new to the club he’ll make them feel welcome. He’s brilliant for that but he’s also a really good footballer.

“He had a big injury that he’s worked really hard to come back from and I’m looking forward to getting more out of him next season. We’re going into Europe and, as I’ve shown this season, I’ll rotate the squad. I think Boycie can be a big, big player for us next season. So I’m looking forward to getting him back.”

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