Osman Sow has told Hearts fans they are still to see the best of him after an untimely injury lay-off halted a promising start to his Tynecastle career.
The Swedish striker made an instant impact after moving to Edinburgh last summer, with seven goals in his first nine league games casting him as a strong contender to finish top scorer in the Championship. However, a torn thigh muscle, sustained in October, took the wind out of his sails and sidelined him until late January.
The 25-year-old managed another four goals in the second half of the season as he took his total tally in all competitions to a respectable 12, but he wasn’t as formidable a force as he had been in the early weeks of his Hearts career.
Now fully fit and revitalised by a long summer break, the striker is optimistic that he can show his true capabilities on a more prolonged basis when Hearts step up to the Ladbrokes Premiership this season.
“I missed a big bit of last season through injury so I just want to play now,” he told the Evening News.
Speaking from Ireland, where Hearts are currently on a mini pre-season trip, he added: “I’m fit and refreshed and feeling good.
“The injury may have stopped me finishing top goalscorer in the league but the main target was to win the league so I was happy that we did that.
“Without injuries, I hope the Hearts fans will see the best of me this season – that’s the plan. I don’t want to set any targets but hopefully I will score a lot of goals in the Premiership.”
Hearts, whose Championship campaign finished on May 2, returned for pre-season in late June after a near seven-week break. They have been subjected to some intense training in the Irish heat over the past couple of days since beating Bohemian 2-0 in Dublin in their first friendly of the summer on Wednesday night and will step things up another notch when they face Shelbourne at Tolka Park today.
The trip to the Emerald Isle has allowed the new trio of Juanma Delgado, Gavin Reilly and Blazej Augustyn to get to know their team-mates further. Sow has been impressed with the summer arrivals so far and believes that they will enhance Hearts’ prospects of making an impact in the top flight this season.
“I’m excited about the Premiership – I think we can do well,” he said.
“The new players all look good. I hope now we can all fit together and play as a team. I’ve not watched too much of the Premiership so I don’t know exactly what the standard will be but it will be more competitive than last year. Every game’s going to be a little bit tougher so we need to be stronger and better.”
Juanma and Reilly have been brought in to replenish the strikeforce since the departures of James Keatings and Genero Zeefuik, and Sow has welcomed their arrival. “There is lots of competition from other strikers but that’s good, it makes you a better player,” he said. “You have to be on your toes.”
Head coach Robbie Neilson is likely to hand another outing to Swiss-born Albanian trialist Mergim Bajraktari in today’s friendly, while centre-back Alim Ozturk is in line to make his first appearance of the summer as he steps up his recovery from a stomach operation.