Hearts close to signing Irish striker Conor Sammon

Conor Sammon was released by Derby County at the end of the season

Conor Sammon was released by Derby County at the end of the season

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HEARTS hope to secure the signing of Republic of Ireland forward Conor Sammon within the next 48 hours.

Head coach Robbie Neilson admits the Edinburgh club are actively pursuing striking targets and Sammon is top of their list.

After being released by Derby County, the 29-year-old is due at Tynecastle for talks and is considering a return to Scotland. Aberdeen are also competing to sign Sammon, who has options to stay in England for next season.

Hearts believe they can persuade him to move to Edinburgh and fill a void in their attack. Swedish forward Osman Sow left for China in February, whilst the Nigerian Abiola Dauda has now returned to parent club Vitesse Arnhem after his loan spell ended.

Neilson and director of football Craig Levein have scoured the market for a striker and feel Sammon fits the bill. Standing 6ft 2in tall, he carries a physical presence and an eye for goal which have earned him nine full caps for the Republic of Ireland. He will be shown round Tynecastle and the Hearts training ground at Riccarton before making a final decision on his future.

“The striking department is definitely an area we need to strengthen. We have Gavin Reilly and Juanma, with Dauda going back to Vitesse. It’s an area where we need someone in,” Neilson told the Evening News.

“Myself, John Murray [chief scout] and Craig are all trying to do it. We’re looking through players and we get reports in all the time. It’s important that the players who come in are better than what we have and better than the players who have left. The higher up we go, the harder that can be. We have targets and we will try to get them.”

Sammon initially made his name in Scotland with Kilmarnock, scoring 18 goals in 27 games between August 2011 and January 2012. That prolific form prompted a £600,000 transfer to Wigan Athletic, and he then joined Derby for £1.2million in August 2012.

His impact at Pride Park wasn’t what he hoped for and he was sent out on loan to Ipswich Town, Rotherham United and, last season, Sheffield United. He was deemed surplus to requirements by Derby and freed at the end of the season.

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