The Hearts manager Craig Levein says the club are edging towards the completion of another couple of contract deals, claiming he now believes the Tynecastle club could hold onto Steven Naismith beyond the summer and is hopeful that an extension to Peter Haring’s current deal will be completed soon.
“We are inching closer. It’s not straight forward. There’s loads and loads of things that need to be discussed and it just goes back and forward, back and forward. But we got there with big Christophe [Berra], John Souttar, Uche [Ikpeazu] and Michael [Smith] and I’m confident we’ll get there with Naisy. We’re still chipping away at Arnaud [Djoum] as well and with Peter Haring, we’re still in discussions with his agent but it just takes time.”
Biding time is something the Gorgie club manager has grown used to as he has been forced to await the return of several key players from injury this season.
The bad news is that another full-back has been sidelined, with Ben Garuccio sustaining a knee injury in training. The torn cruciate ligament will keep him out of the team for around 10 months, which Levein described as devastating for both player and club.
“There was nobody near him. He just twisted and, having experienced it myself, you just need to be in the wrong position and shift your weight... I feel really sorry for the boy. He had just got himself back in the team and was in a good place.
“The difficulty now is that he is over here on his own and his family are back in Australia. We might end up getting him operated on over there so that he can spend the first three months at home before he tries to get back walking without his crutches.”
It leaves Levein searching for left-back solutions but he says that newcomer Aidy White isn’t the answer yet.
“He will take a little bit of time to get ready. But we brought Bobby Burns back from Livingston in January and Jake [Mulraney] has played there a few times as well.”He does expect to have defender Michael Smith back soon, though, as the Northern Irishman targets the Scottish Cup semi-final. And he hopes Naismith to be able to get started on gym work next week as he continues his rehab from his latest knee operation.
“There’s a little bit of bone bruising so that needs to settle but I think middle of next week... he’s got a gym in his house so he can do a programme there.”