David Vanecek must resurrect his Hearts career this summer by reporting for pre-season training fully fit and ready to show his true potential.
The Czech striker, a January signing from FK Teplice, has failed to make any impression in Edinburgh but coaches are not yet ready to give up on him.
He wasn’t involved in Hearts’ defeat by Rangers on Wednesday night even though fellow forwards Uche Ikpeazu and Steven Naismith were out injured.
Despite failing to make the matchday squad for three of his club’s last four matches, 28-year-old Vanecek could still be involved between now and the end of the campaign.
However, his endeavour, fitness and application over the summer will determine whether he has a long-term future at Tynecastle Park.
He signed an 18-month contract upon his arrival and Hearts have the option to extend it by a further year if they wish. So far, Vanecek has not lived up to expectations after a December holiday in Thailand left him short of fitness when he joined the Hearts squad.
Manager Craig Levein believes it is likely to be next season before supporters see the 6ft 4in forward in his best form.
“Yeah, I think that’s the case. As I’ve explained, he didn’t turn up in great shape. He hasn’t been able to impress in training because things haven’t gone particularly well for him,” said Levein.
“I think he needs a fresh start. I think he needs to get away for the summer, make sure he works hard and comes back in good shape and then he will be able to compete with the rest of the players.
“He hasn’t done particularly well from the opportunities he’s had. He is doing better in training but I don’t feel he’s at the level he needs to be at yet.”