BY ALAN TEMPLE in Dublin – Capital City Press
Robbie Neilson has confirmed that Hearts are on the cusp of “a coup” as they close in on Nigeria star Juwon Oshaniwa – while the capital club are also eyeing Albanian under-21 internationalist Mergim Bajraktari.
Neilson oversaw his side’s first outing of pre-season last night as the Jambos claimed a deserved 2-0 win over Irish Premier League outfit Bohemians thanks to goals by Callum Paterson and a Soufian El Hassnaoui penalty.
Summer signings Juanma Delgado, Gavin Reilly and Blazej Augustyn were handed their maiden starts for the club, however the talk of the town in the Irish capital was about the potential arrival of Oshaniwa.
Hearts have verbally agreed terms with the player, who has already been granted a conditional British work permit, and it is hoped the final remnants of red tape stalling the deal can be sliced through next week.
“Hopefully we can get something done in the next few days,” acknowledged Neilson. “If we get him it would be fantastic because there has been a lot of hard work been put in by myself, [director of football] Craig Levein, [head of recruitment] John Murray and the owner, Ann Budge.
“It has been a real club effort and if we can get him in it will be a real coup.
“He is keen to come, I have spoken to him and we are desperate to get him so hopefully we can get something tied up.
“He knows the club and he’s keen to come here and make a name for himself.”
An encounter which also saw Juanma, Sam Nicholson, Gary Oliver, Kevin McHattie and Osman Sow pass up chances, was similarly notable for the appearance of Albanian under-21 internationalist Mergim Bajraktari, who Hearts fielded as a trialist.
The Swiss-born midfielder was on the books of Stade Nyonnais in Switzerland’s third tier last season and has recently trained with Hearts at their Riccarton base in Edinburgh.
“He definitely has qualities and we are having a serious look at him,” added Neilson. “I think he is a good player, but it is dependent of what we can do budget-wise.”