Steven Naismith: Craig Levein admits keeping forward at Hearts is unlikely

Crag Levein
Hearts manager Craig Levein says Steven Naismith will help the club's younger players develop

Hearts manager Craig Levein says it will be "extremely difficult" to keep Steven Naismith beyond his loan deal.

The 31-year-old has joined from Norwich, with money from Jamie Walker's sale to Wigan used to fund the move.

And while Levein revealed Naismith is likely to start against Hibernian in the Scottish Cup on Sunday, he does not expect to keep the forward long term.

"I think that will be difficult, it's quite a costly exercise for us at where we're at just now," Levein said.

"My priority was just to get him in the door so nothing has been discussed beyond the term of the loan deal. To do it on a permanent basis would be extremely difficult."

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Hearts entertain Edinburgh rivals Hibs in Sunday's fourth-round match, and Levein admits the tie was at the forefront of his mind as he chased former Kilmarnock, Everton and Rangers forward Naismith.

"I was pushing really hard to get him in for this game because of the nature of it," Levein added. "It's a big match for myself, it's a big match for the coaches, the players, the fans, everybody. It's an exciting prospect.

"He played last week, he's been back training for six weeks. He had an ankle knock earlier in the season but he's over that, he came through the medical no problem.

"I don't see any reason why he shouldn't play."

Levein, who revealed there has been "interest" in some of his players but "nothing concrete", thanked Norwich and Naismith for helping make the loan deal happen.

And he is convinced the Tynecastle club have secured a player who will add value on and off the pitch.

Steven Naismith
Naismith had been a target for clubs in England before joining Hearts

"I know him reasonably well, having worked with him when I was in the Scotland job, and we've always had a good relationship," Levein added.

"I rate him very highly as a player and as a person and I got word that he was getting a little bit frustrated not playing, so basically it was a case of trying to get him in, and thankfully it happened.

"He's similar in mentality to the likes of Christophe Berra and Aaron Hughes and Don Cowie - he's always been a winner and hates getting beat. He'll bring that to our front line - he scores goals, he's energetic, really he's just a very good player.

"His personality is really important. The dressing room here is very good and that's mainly because of those experienced players that I've talked about, they've passed on some very good habits to the younger players. It's a model which I came into when I was a young kid here at Hearts, working alongside some very experienced pros. I've always believed in it.

"He's just another really good player that will help, not just the team get results, but also to improve some of the younger lads as well."

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