Kevin Kyle's heart set on goals

KEVIN KYLE is not stupid. Definitely open, wonderfully vocal and, yes, perhaps naive occasionally, but he's not daft. He knows what he wants and after years of gambling with his fortunes, both personal and financial, he now prefers a sure thing.

In Andy Driver he can see a player who is as close as it gets to a magnet for Scotland boss Craig Levein. Having invested so much time and energy in securing the right to select the winger, it's a given that the player will become the focus of much scrutiny ahead of the upcoming friendly against Sweden in August and then the opening Euro 2012 qualifiers against Lithuania and Liechtenstein early the following month. Kyle hopes to capitalise on that.

With Levein watching the Hearts matches, sussing out Driver and Lee Wallace, it gifts the likes of himself and fellow signing Darren Barr the chance to catch the eye. Which is why, just days after signing, he has already been back in the gym, working hard to ensure that when the season kicks off, he will be in peak shape.

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"There has been a bit of uncertainty there (regarding Driver's eligibility for Scotland]. He did well playing for England Under-21s which is a good accolade. Since then there's been this whole debacle, but it's now been settled and he has the ambition and if he does well at Hearts he can be in the Scotland full team. That's only going to help him and his career.

"Hopefully he'll do well enough on a Saturday to get those rewards and hopefully he'll put plenty of crosses in the box for me and then we could all be happy. I could be getting called up with Andy Driver. It's not impossible."

Kyle has 10 Scotland caps and one international goal to his name, the latest appearance coming in George Burley's final game in charge, against Wales, in 2009. With his previous outings dotted between 2002-04, that call-up represented the end of a four-and-a-half year absence from the team and, although he says that his international ambitions are on the backburner as he seeks to vindicate Jim Jefferies' decision to bring him to Gorgie first, that run out against the Welsh gave him a sense that there could be more to come if he can impress the new boss.

"I want to get consistent and score goals and if Craig Levein thinks I'm his kind of player then great."

A good start to the domestic campaign will aid his cause. Driver could play a huge part in that, provided the club continue to bat off the advances of English outfits hoping to snap him up. But even in his absence there is a belief that he can prosper by getting on the end of crosses from wide men such as David Templeton, Craig Thomson and Suso.

Impressing Levein is something to aim for and strikers love targets. Hearts fans are crossing their fingers that he is one who will be able to find it on a regular basis. He has already made crowd-pleasing noises about what the team can achieve this year, saying there is no reason why they shouldn't be setting sights on third place and even higher and saying he has the belief the squad is good enough to challenge the Old Firm. And when it comes to goals, it may not take too much to woo the support. They have endured a fairly barren few years with regards a prolific target man and even the replication of his 10-goal haul from last season would catapult him into a different bracket from his predecessors.

But even if he delivers an initial scoring spurt, he is smart enough to know that the pressure to maintain that and keep banging in the goals will intensify. It's not something that stresses him and having turned down other clubs, including a last ditch overture from Charlton, when Paul Parkinson called while he was on his way to his Hearts medical, he is now desperate to prove his worth.

"He asked me to give him two minutes and phoned back with an offer but I said 'look, I've got my heart set on signing for Hearts, my family are happy with it and I want to go there'. Unless Barcelona or Real Madrid came in I doubt I would have changed my mind."

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A big character, he will bolster the team, but his team-mates are going to have to get used to his verbal contributions as well.

"People do say that about me – I am a character. I've had my ups and downs and outbursts. It's just the way I am. But Jim and Billy (Brown, Hearts assistant manager] know how to deal with me and keep me under control. Not that I'm mental or anything. It's just that when something comes into my head it's like Tourettes, I've got to get it out and that's what I'm like on a football park. I get really frustrated and I don't know why that is. It's just something I've had all my life. I think Hearts average attendance last year was 14,000 and it's been a while since I played in front of a crowd like that on a regular basis and I can't wait.

"Hopefully I can live up to the expectations of Hearts. It's a fantastic opportunity and if you can't look forward to it and revel in it what's the point in playing football? Hopefully both myself and the team will get off to a good start. I don't need many goals to beat the (Hearts tallies from the] last couple of seasons. As long as Hearts create chances, I'm confident I will get goals."

Whether with club or country, there are opportunities. Kyle intends to take them.