Former Hearts player Patrick Kisnorbo has backed Aidan White to be a shrewd signing by Craig Levein if he can stay fit and rediscover his best form.
The 27-year-old left-back joined the Tynecastle club in March on a contract until 2021 and has been busy working on his fitness ever since as he bids to reignite his career following serious injury problems in recent years. White has been making good progress and is expected to be in contention to fight for a place in the first team when the squad return for pre-season later this month.
Kisnorbo and White spent four years as team-mates at Leeds United between 2009 and 2013, when the Irishman was emerging as a highly-regarded young player, and the Australian, who played for Hearts between 2003 and 2005, is confident his old colleague can justify the faith shown in him by Levein.
“I can see why Craig has taken the opportunity to get Aidy in because he’s definitely the type of player who can add a different dimension to a team,” Kisnorbo told the Evening News. “Aidy was young when I played with him. He was a good player, very quick and with a great left foot. He did a great job, playing left-back or left-wing, and I’ve got nothing but praise for him.
“He’s not played football for a while so he’ll be hungry to get back on the pitch. Those players can be very valuable. You don’t know until he actually plays how it will go but certainly in my days with him, my experience of playing with him was great. He was very professional and hopefully he can represent Hearts in a great way.”
Levein is hopeful that White can fill a problem position, with the manager reliant on teenagers Aaron Hickey and Bobby Burns to play left-back in the closing weeks of the season after long-term injuries suffered by on-loan Manchester United player Demetri Mitchell and Ben Garuccio. Kisnorbo was a team-mate of Garuccio’s at Melbourne City between 2013 and 2016, and the 38-year-old is pleased to have seen his compatriot get the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and move to Hearts to kick-start his career abroad.
“Ben was a young kid who was emerging in Australia when I played with him,” said Kisnorbo. “For me, he was a real standout as a youngster in Australian football. He’s just had a knee operation, which isn’t great, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back and do well for Hearts.”
Kisnorbo now coaches at Melbourne City, where he briefly encountered Oliver Bozanic, another Australian currently at Hearts. Levein, Kisnorbo’s former manager at Hearts and Leicester City, sought his opinion on both Garuccio and Bozanic before signing them last summer. “Olly was a steady midfielder with a great left foot for us. He’s a great guy, very humble and he did well for us so I was pleased Craig took him. I spoke to Craig about both Olly and Ben so hopefully they’ve represented my judgment well by doing well for Hearts. He rang me to ask about them both and I gave my opinion on them both as players and as people.”
Australian players have scored in each of Hearts’ last two Scottish Cup final appearances, with Ryan McGowan and Ryan Edwards netting against Hibs and Celtic. McGowan enjoyed a particularly strong bond with Hearts supporters and Kisnorbo is pleased to see the link between the Edinburgh club and his homeland continuing. “Hopefully I’ve kind of led the way in terms of Australians going over to Hearts to start their career,” he said. “If anyone rang me to ask about Hearts, I would tell them it’s a great club full of tradition and expectation, with great fans and a great gaffer in a great city.”