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Levein: I'll keep plugging away to keep Naismith and Djoum

The Hearts boss has said that wants to tie down more key players on new deals.

Craig levein
SNS group

Hearts boss Craig Levein has said that he will continue to make every effort to keep Steven Naismith and Arnaud Djoum at Tynecastle.

Both players have been major players for Levein but are out of contract at the end of the season and are expected to have other offers to consider.

But after signing Christophe Berra, Michael Smith and John Souttar to extended deals, the Hearts manager is keen to continue the trend.

"I'm trying," he said. "My strike rate isn't bad so far, so I'll just need to keep it going.

"It would good to get all the ones signed up who give us that stability I keep talking about.

"I'll just wait and see what happens.

"I want Arnaud to stay but he said to me a while ago that if something comes up that at his age is worth an awful lot of money, then he would probably look to take it.

"But I'll keep chipping away. He likes it here in Edinburgh and his family are settled. There is more to life than money.

"I believe Steven is happy here but again it depends on whether something else comes up in the next couple of months that piques his interest.

"But I'll keep plugging away."

Hearts have enjoyed a return to form since key players came back from injury and Levein said he could now expect striker Uche Ikpeazu to be back in contention this week with Peter haring also nearing a return.

"Uche trained yesterday with the group for the first time," he said. "He will definitely be involved on Sunday but tomorrow might come a little bit early, while Peter will probably be a week later in his return.

"Normally I'd say I'd try to twist Uche's arm, but I don't think I could twist his.

"We didn't just miss his goals and hold-up play, we missed that raw energy and enthusiasm he's got which unsettles the opposition.

"We've already got Souttar, Berra and Naismith back. We've never lost when those three have been in the team, which is good to hear.

"So we'll now get Uche back on Sunday, while Peter will probably be a week later.

"We've won five out of the last six matches - we should have won six out of six but that's another matter - but we're going to get stronger for sure.

"The statistics would say we're getting back to our early-season form. I wouldn't say we're quite there yet, but the signs are encouraging."

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