Steven Naismith reveals his views on Hearts' new signings with two more to come

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Technical director is pleased with recruitment so far

As Hearts prepare to add another two forwards to their first-team squad, technical director Steven Naismith is poring over new recruits Frankie Kent and Calem Nieuwenhof after watching them in action for the first time.

Both players started Sunday’s final pre-season friendly against Leeds United at Tynecastle Park. Englishman Kent enjoyed a dominant display in central defence, whilst Australian Nieuwenhof featured in central midfield. They will soon be joined by the Japanese forward Kyosuke Tagawa and Costa Rican attacker Kenneth Vargas.

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“It was good to see them. They have been training for a few days and I thought they came through Sunday quite well,” explained Naismith. “They’re at different stages of their careers. I thought you could tell Calem is coming into a new country. At times you could see his quality, at times you could see he’s still trying to get to grips with British football.

“Frankie has come in and showed why we’re trying to get players like him. We knew we needed to get people in who are not just good players, but good leaders, people who organise. I value that a lot from being an ex-player. I tried to be that kind of player and it’s so valuable to your team-mates than solely focusing on yourself. He’s a leader, he has a presence, and both of them coming through the minutes they did is brilliant for us.”

Leeds won 1-0 thanks to Luke Ayling’s strike later in the first half, but Naismith stressed that Hearts took plenty from the fixture ahead of Saturday’s opening Premiership game at St Johnstone. “It was a good workout,” he said. “With the pre-season games, the main focus is different for each opponent. We’re up against a good Leeds side so the emphasis is on being out of possession and how we’re going to be. And also how we’re going to defend our box as that was a big issue last season.

“If anything, we’re slightly disappointed with what we did in possession because they were very aggressive with our press. That’s something we have mainly been good at as a group – getting away from that pressure and getting a foothold in the game. So we could have done better but out of possession we were good.”

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A busy July is now about to close with the number of new signings at Tynecastle set to rise to five – goalkeeper Michael McGovern came in prior to the above quartet. “Pre-season has been good,” stated Naismith. “The last bit has been getting players in, other than that we’ve worked on a lot. We have been able to go into a bit more detail in what we want to do. I don’t think you can really say you are there or happy until a month into the season, that’s when everybody is hitting their sharpness.

Steven Naismith is preparing to start the new season with Hearts. Pic: SNSSteven Naismith is preparing to start the new season with Hearts. Pic: SNS
Steven Naismith is preparing to start the new season with Hearts. Pic: SNS

“The League Cup is on and being in Europe you don’t play in that, so you have to try and replicate being in competitive situations. That’s why we took a really good game like Leeds. We have got a good group of players, it’s about adding to them.”

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