Too early to consider David Milinkovic deal, says Hearts boss

David Milinkovic
David Milinkovic
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Craig Levein plans to judge on-loan Hearts winger David Milinkovic over a full season before deciding whether he is worth signing permanently.

The Hearts manager is pleased with the Frenchman’s recent form but insists he must sustain it after the winter break.

Milinkovic, inset, told the Evening News last month that he is happy in Edinburgh and plans to approach parent club Genoa about converting his season-long loan into a permanent transfer. He was initially loaned to Foggia in July but asked to leave in August upon hearing of Hearts’ interest.

Levein admitted the 23-year-old has come to life during his team’s recent nine-game unbeaten run, culminating in his first two goals in Scotland during the 4-0 destruction of Celtic on December 17. The manager now wants to assess him during the second half of the campaign before any talks about his long-term future.

“I haven’t looked at David’s situation yet,” explained Levein. “The loan deal was complicated because he was at another club but didn’t belong to them. We had to jump through hoops to get it done. He started fairly slowly with us but there has been improvement for sure in the last six weeks.

“I’d rather just have a fuller picture than what we’ve seen so far. Is he going to continue doing what he’s doing and is he going to be somebody I can rely on? That’s where we want to get to with him – the point where he’s going to be reliable.”

Milinkovic’s industry and work rate allied to his technical ability have been warmly received by the Hearts support. Such attributes have not gone unnoticed by Levein, either.

“I think he’s done well. He has been erratic at times but the thing which endears me more than anything is that David does work extremely hard. If he makes a mistake, he does his best to try and make up for it.

“He’s got really good ability but, like most attacking players, they can be a wee bit erratic. Once he learns just to calm down a bit and take a breath, he will improve even further. He’s just a wee bit wound up and highly-strung at times.

“It’s not often you bring in a foreign player who is a winger and he actually enjoys the tackling and the physical side of it. He seems to relish that, which is a positive.”