HEARTS striker Juho Makela has gone on trial at German second division club Greuther Furth, where he hopes to agree a six-month loan deal before the end of January.
The Finnish internationalist has spent the last week in southern Spain, where Greuther Furth have retreated for a winter training camp in the Andalucan town of Chiclana de la Frontera. He is being assessed by manager Wolfgang Graef and played 63 minutes of Saturday's 2-1 friendly defeat by fellow German side Bochum.
Makela was due to play in another trial match for Greuther Furth today against Spanish second division side Cadiz before Graef and his assistant Benno Mohlmann make a final decision on whether to take the 23-year-old on loan.
Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas said: "Juho is on trial with the German club and there is a possibility he could go on loan until the end of the season. I can't say too much just now but he is in Spain with them."
A Greuther Furth club official confirmed to the Evening News: "Makela is with us for training at the moment but a loan deal has not been agreed yet."
Makela cost Hearts 500,000 when he arrived from HJK Helsinki a year ago with a reputation as a potent goalscorer. He scored 33 goals in 41 appearances over two years in Finland, but has made only two starts for Hearts in 12 months.
The Finn has scored four times this season, but after a hat-trick in the 4-0 CIS Cup victory over Alloa he was restricted to a two-minute substitute role in Hearts' next match against Aberdeen. Makela is now keen to try Germany, where Greuther Furth sit mid table in the second Bundesliga.
Ivanauskas has this weekend's plans disrupted by injuries to Robbie Neilson and Nerijus Barasa. Neilson will miss several weeks after surgery on his cartilage, and Barasa will be absent for four weeks with an ankle injury.
Ivanauskas has taken the Ghanaian internationalist Laryea Kingston on trial from Lokomotiv Moscow. He can operate in midfield or at right-back.
"He is on trial, we have interest in him and we are talking to him," said Ivanauskas.
Another trialist, Mindaugas Baguzis, is back in Lithuania and will play for his club, FBK Kaunas, in Moscow's Commonwealth Cup from January 20-27. However, the defender should return to Edinburgh to sign a loan deal before the transfer window closes.
Ivanauskas would only say: "It's a possibility. After the Moscow tournament we will have a discussion with Baguzis."
Hearts have had Andy Webster's registration cancelled by the Scottish Football Association, who yesterday ratified the defender's loan move to Rangers from English club Wigan Athletic.
Hearts had complained to FIFA and the SFA over the legalities of Webster's return to Scotland just six months after he invoked a scarcely-known FIFA ruling to opt out of his contract at Tynecastle. However, the protests were rejected by the SFA. Hearts now wait for FIFA to decide how much compensation they are due from Wigan for Wesbter.
Meanwhile, Ivanauskas today dismissed the possibility of signing Lokomotiv Moscow's Garry O'Connor who wants to leave Russia. Ivanauskas said: "I know him well from Hibs but I don't think it is true that we will move.
"I don't believe Mr Romanov is interested either."
HEARTS' youth striker Gary Glen scored one of Scotland Under-17s' goals in last night's 3-0 win over Malta.