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Naismith: Hearts deal expected but not signed yet

The forward says he is still in negotiations with Craig Levein over contract details.

Naismith is on track to be fit for pre-season.
Naismith is on track to be fit for pre-season. SNS Group

Steven Naismith has said that he expects to be a Hearts player next season but that nothing is guaranteed until a contract is ironed out.

Naismith has spent the last 18 months playing at Tynecastle across two loan spells but is now a free agent following the expiry of his contract at Norwich City.

The 32-year-old, who suffered a knee injury in February that ruled him out of Hearts' remaining games, says he'll be fit for next season and is still in talks with Craig Levein about playing in maroon next season.

Asked if he would be a Hearts player, he said: "To be honest, I don't know. As I've got older I've gotten pretty relaxed about it.

"I've enjoyed it so much there it looks probably I'll be playing but a lot of the things in a contract take time. Hearts have got to look after themselves when they're investing in somebody of my age and I'm going to look after myself.

"The process is what it is and you've just got to go through it. I'm sure it'll get concluded at some point.

"At the moment that's the intention but until it's signed you can't say 'Aye, that's it happening'. But Ann [Budge]and the gaffer are saying the right things and we all want to find that middle ground that we're all happy with."

'At the moment that's the intention but until it's signed you can't say 'Aye, that's it happening'.'
Steven Naismtih

Though they reached the Scottish Cup final, few were happy with Hearts' season overall as the loss of key players to injury derailed what had been a strong start. Naismith was clear on what changes would be needed over the summer to help the club challenge.

"Add one or two players," he said. "What I felt last season was that we maybe missed one or two players that, when the squad or team was light from experienced players, would stand up and do it.

"We've got a lot of hot prospects and guys who over the years will become good but maybe missing one or two that can drag a team through a game. So I think if we sign a couple like that then we'll be in a good place.

"It wasn't great in terms of the way we were playing and the results we were getting so criticism is inevitable but as the targets slip away it is hard for players to keep motivated. The closer we got to the cup final you saw the performances and players starting to think 'I might be in trouble in terms of starting the final' and inevitably the performances started to lift.

"And then you see what we can do in the final, which for the first 60 or 70 minutes was even."

Naismith also revealed that he had spoken to new Scotland boss Steve Clarke about his future in the national team and was told he is in the boss' plans.

"We just had a general chat, " the 49-cap forward said. "First of all about whether I wanted to be involved, and I made it clear I love going away with Scotland and it's one of the best things I've done in my football career.

"He said I would be in contention if I was fit so it was a good conversation."

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