Beni Baningime reveals the Everton connection and attributes to make Ellis Simms a hit at Hearts

An influential voice in helping Hearts land Ellis Simms, midfielder Beni Baningime said he was not surprised to see the Gorgie newcomer hit the ground running and he doesn’t expect him to waste too much time opening his goal account either.

The Everton loan signing, who will see out the remainder of the campaign with the capital club, made an impressive debut hours after completing his switch, and his former Goodison club-mate claims there is even more to come from the 21-year-old.

“Yeah, he’s a big player. We were training together with the [Everton] first team, and he looked really good. I think he’ll do well here and kick on to whatever he wants to do after that.”Confident that Simms can transition effortlessly into the Scottish game and offer Hearts extra pace and punch up front as they work to tie up third place and a shot at European football next term, Baningime was proactive in selling him on the move north.

“I did a little bit of agent work, but the gaffer convinced him on the club itself. How we’re doing right now, I think that convinced him as well.

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“We’ve got a great player. I was speaking to him, telling him about the games, the fans, the league and just how passionate everyone is and he really wanted to join.”He did, just in time to make the squad for the midweek tussle with Celtic, and, “I thought he was brilliant, soon you’ll see him scoring hopefully.”

Like Baningime, who swapped Liverpool for Edinburgh in the summer, Simms made a bright first impression and if he can maintain that standard, the way the Congolese midfielder has, few would complain.

“Straight away he was ready. I think it must be something about Everton. They must be creating good players! I knew he was going to get going, so now I’m just waiting on his first goal.

“He has pace, he’s lightning. You can give him a bad ball and he’ll make it into a good ball. That’s an attribute not many people have and when he gets into those positions, he can put the ball away.”

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Hearts' Ellis Simms and Celtic's Carl Starfelt during a cinch Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Not that the 23-year-old, who has been one of Hearts’ star performers before he picked up a knee injury that saw him sidelined since November, tends to be wasteful with his passes.

While Hearts have got by without Baningime, keeping the chasing pack at bay while they staked their claim to third place, his return was warmly welcomed as he proved an positive force in the latter stages of the head-to-head with Ange Postecoglou’s title challengers.

“Although I’d have loved a win, even a draw, and it felt like, in the second half, we had done enough to get that, on a personal level, I’m really glad to be back.

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“It felt like we were just waiting for that one goal or opportunity to come, we believed it would and if we scored again we could’ve gone on to win the game.

Celtic's Giorgos Giakoumakis is tackled by Hearts' Beni Baningime . (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

“We’re a little bit frustrated, but it happens. Boycey got us the goal to get us back in it and on another day that hits the post and goes in and I’m speaking about a different situation. That’s football though and we’ve got to take the positives and move on.”

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