Hearts have added more depth to their midfield with the signing of Aussie Ryan Edwards from Partick Thistle on a two-year deal. Here’s everything Hearts fans need to know about their eight summer recruit...
• READ MORE: Done deal: Hearts sign midfielder Ryan Edwards
Will bring dynamism to the team
Until the final game of the season Ryan Edwards had featured for Partick Thistle in 87 of the previous 88 league matches - starting 71 of those. The 24-year-old is nothing if not durable.
He is easily one of the fittest players in the league, bringing drive and determination to the Partick Thistle midfield, as he scurries around the pitch, linking play.
Similarities can be drawn to Hearts’ midfield workhorse, Don Cowie. Edwards provides the same kind of endeavour and commitment, something which should endear him to the home crowd.
He also offers versatility, having played at the base of the midfield in a two or at the tip of the midfield behind the striker, while he can also operate on the wing. The Australian is the type of character who can be trusted to carry out the manager’s request even if stationed in an unfamiliar position.
Coming off the back of a disappointing season
Edwards arrived at Firhill on a free transfer during the 2014/2015 season having spent three years at English Championship side Reading. It wasn’t until the second half of his debut campaign that he was afforded a regular run Alan Archibald’s team.
His enthusiasm was clear from the outset but the quality with the ball at his feet didn’t quite match it. Yet, he was one of the most improved players in the Scottish top-flight in 2016/2017, which suggested the first season could be put down to acclimatisation.
However, his form dropped in the past campaign. He was one of many disappointments as Partick Thistle were relegated from the Premiership. He flitted between a central midfield and advanced midfield role to little effect.
With injuries proving problematic for the Jags, Edwards was at times asked to play more defensively alongside Adam Barton. The pair were often found wanting. Playing further forward, he fails to influence the game as he is not the most creative. His shuttling qualities weren’t seen often.
A concern for fans would be his lack of creativity, Joaquim Adao made more key passes (ones which lead to a shot) than Edwards did last season.
He adds midfield depth
Think back to 24 October. Hibs defeated Hearts 1-0 in what was a largely one-way contest. The Hearts midfield that day was Rafal Grzelak, Connor Randall and Ross Callachan. It was a situation that wasn’t properly fixed as 16-year-old Harry Cochrane was given a bigger role than was perhaps best for him throughout the season.
Hearts boss Craig Levein bemoaned the fact that the squad wasn’t sufficiently stocked in certain areas. The centre of midfield was one of those areas, full-back Michael Smith having to move into midfield latterly.
The signing of Edwards and Olly Lee, who has arrived from Luton Town, will give the squad greater depth, more experience and variety.
Levein has made no secret about the fact he is going to work the team hard in pre-season and make the team a lot fitter. The expectation is that the team will be more dynamic, able to press the opposition and compete physically. Edwards fits into this game plan.
He played under his dad when he was sacked
Edwards comes from footballing and Scottish stock. His father Alistair was born in Australia to Scottish parents. He was earmarked from an early age as a talented footballer, joining Rangers following a trial after impressing at the 1987 World Youth Cup in Chile.
He stayed at Ibrox for 18 months as Graeme Souness’ reign got underway. However he only played once, a Glasgow Cup semi-final alongside Davie Cooper and Jimmy Nicholl. He played for both Brighton & Hove Albion and Millwall, but spent the majority of his career in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
It was in the latter nation where Ryan was born when Edwards Snr was playing for Singapore Lions.
Edwards Snr has gone on to forge a management and coaching career, which included a spell as Perth Glory manager in his native Australia. However, his time came to an end at the Glory when he was sacked after a fallout with senior players.
One of the reasons for the bust-up was Edwards’ alleged nepotism, after he promoted Ryan and his brother Cameron. Captain Jacob Burns was one of the players who had made way for Ryan.
He had to renounce his Singapore citizenship
Edwards harbours dreams of playing for his national team. He was called up by the Aussies in March 2017 after impressing with Thistle but failed to feature against Iraq or United Arab Emirates.
He’s made more than 30 appearances for Australia’s U23 and U20 teams.
Despite being born in Singapore, Edwards has always felt Australian, only spending a matter of days after his birth in the country.
Before moving to Reading as a 17-year-old he was part of the Australian Institute of Sport, as was Hearts’ recent left-back signing Ben Garuccio.
It was in England where complications arose. Once he was 18 he would have to return to Singapore to do his National Service. A fine was paid but he was required to then return when he was 21 or renounce his Singapore citizenship which was an easy choice for the midfielder.
He told Four Four Two in 2016: “I never had a Singapore passport, I was a baby just travelling on my mum’s passport. I was born there, my mum is from there and her family is from there, but apart from that I don’t have any ties.
“Only once or twice have my mum’s family come to Australia, we never went there, so there are no ties to Singapore.
“My first passport was an Australian passport and I consider myself Australian.”
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