Hearts: Steven Naismith to take time considering next step

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Naismith coy on future
Scottish Premiership: Hibernian v Heart of Midlothian
Venue: Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 29 December Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Steven Naismith insists his time at Hearts has been "fantastic" but is in no rush to commit to a permanent stay.

The 32-year-old striker is out of contract at Norwich City at the end of the season when his second loan deal at Tynecastle expires.

He has scored 12 goals in 18 outings for the club during this campaign.

"Later on in your career it is so much more about everything other than the most money and the highest level you can play at," he said.

"When you are a young player, that's probably what drives you.

"As you get older, there are so many other aspects. I just want to make sure I make the right decision. However long that takes me."

Naismith said he has "a great relationship" with Hearts manager Craig Levein, who helped bring him to Edinburgh from Carrow Road in January 2017 before another loan agreement was reached over the summer.

"This move has been fantastic for me and I appreciate how far Hearts have gone to get a deal done," he added.

"But I've offered a lot back as well. It's been a great match. I can't complain and hopefully Hearts can't either."

Following two months on the sidelines with a knee injury, Naismith has started the past two matches and is raring to go for Saturday's derby at Easter Road after finding the net in Wednesday's 2-0 win at home to Hamilton.

"I've gone into every game feeling confident enough that if I get a chance or two I'll nick a goal," he said.

Levein 'slightly surprised' at kick off time

Meanwhile, Levein hopes "all of the action is on the field and nowhere else" at Easter Road, following unsavoury scenes at the last derby.

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon was hit with a coin when the teams met in October, Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal was involved in an incident with a fan and flares were thrown.

Levein is "slightly surprised" at the 17:30 kick off time, explaining: "We had a chat with the police earlier this week. I think they are just being diligent and doing their jobs."

Hearts are still missing key players in John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu through injury and there are doubts over both Peter Haring and Arnaud Djoum.

Hibernian will be without a long list of regular performers but Levein says "it won't make the game any less important".

"It makes it more difficult for the managers of course if you have not got your best players available," he said. "It's still a derby match, and it's still going to be extremely competitive."

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