Steven Naismith urges Hearts team mates not to rest on their laurels as he speaks on Tynecastle manager hunt and return from injury

Steven Naismith got valuable game time at Hampden as he stepped up his return from injury but says Hearts need to kick on now
Steven Naismith got valuable game time at Hampden as he stepped up his return from injury but says Hearts need to kick on now
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Striker urges unity at Hearts as he insists Craig Levein's successor has a strong squad capable of pushing up the league



Steven Naismith believes harmony at Hearts is key as the club continues its search for a new manager on the back of Sunday's 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final drubbing by Rangers.

The build-up to the game at Hampden Park was dominated by the sacking of Craig Levein on Thursday after just one win in 11 Ladbrokes Premiership matches left the Jambos second bottom of the table and fans increasingly angry.

Assistant Austin MacPhee was installed as caretaker but his game plan for the semi-final needed to be reassessed when Gers defender Filip Helander broke the deadlock with a strike just before half-time. Colombia striker Alfredo Morelos then bagged a brace after the break to take his tally to 20 for the season and seal Rangers' spot in the final.

Naismith, 33, who returned from a long-term hamstring injury as a second-half substitute, said: "Everyone who has an interest in the club, a love for the club, all want the same thing.

"There has been a lot of frustration and anger over the last two or three months.

"But if everyone takes a step back, look at what the fans put into the club, look what the board and Ann (Budge, owner) have done for the club, and us as players now have to show what it means to be at the club for the rest of this season and beyond.

"I still have high hopes as a group of players that we should be pushing up the league. That now starts with St Mirren at the weekend and that's what we should focus on."

Naismith believes that whoever is appointed manager has a strong squad at his disposal.

"The gaffer was unfortunate with injuries over the last year," said the former Rangers, Everton and Norwich player.

"Arguably his five most important players have been out at the start of the season so inevitably, whoever comes in will inherit these boys coming back to fitness and it is a strong position to be in.

"What we have is a decent amount of experienced boys who have probably been through this before and we won't let standards drop, it will be a case of everyone fighting for their places.

"That has been the problem. Too many boys have potentially rested on their laurels and expected to be in squads and now boys are coming back to fitness, that is not going to be the case.

"Whoever is in charge in the long run will have decisions to make."

Naismith was delighted to be back in action, coming on just after the break for the injured Michael Smith to make his first appearance since August.

He said: "I felt good. I think that is the only positive I can take from the game is that I got a good amount of minutes under my belt and a lot of running within that. I have now built up properly and feeling fit."