BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS hope to gain international clearance for striker Bjorn Johnsen within the next 48 hours after the deadline for CSKA Sofia to submit evidence that he has a contract with them passed.
More than three weeks have elapsed since the Jambos announced the signing of the 6’5 former Valerenga and Atletico Baleares front-man on a three-year deal.
However, CSKA, for whom Johnsen starred last season, have refused to transfer his registration because controversial owner Grisha Ganchev is adamant he remains their player.
Despite attempts to come to an amicable agreement, with the Jambos even asking the Scottish Football Association for their guidance, the case has been referred to FIFA for resolution.
CSKA had until the close of business yesterday to submit their case to world football’s governing body, while Hearts have already done so.
And sources at Tynecastle were last night hopeful that FIFA will now be in a position to make a swift decision and rule in the capital club’s favour in time for U.S.-born Johnsen to face Inverness on Saturday.
The 24-year-old recently vented his frustration, tweeting: “Getting fairly impatient with the FIFA clearance here. Ready to play!!!!”
Meanwhile, Johnsen’s impending availability is likely to see Spanish striker Juanma deemed surplus to requirements at Tynecastle this season.
The towering marksman scored 13 goals in his debut season in Scottish football last term but has been a bit-part player so far this campaign, starting just one match – the 2-1 Europa League win over FC Infonet in July.
Neilson has already stated he needed to up his workmate to win his place back, chiding the 25-year-old to the Edinburgh Evening News: “He’s not been doing great in training and games.
“It’s important to prove yourself in training if you want to get in the squad here. We’ve moved up a level, so you won’t get in if it’s not happening.
“If he wants to stay, he’s got to work hard and try and get himself back in the team.”
However, Juanma, who joined from Greek club Kalloni, now appears likely to seek a move away from the Jambos after slipping behind Conor Sammon, Tony Watt, Robbie Muirhead and Johnsen in the pecking order.
Highly-rated Nikolay Todorov will also be an option when he returns from a loan stint at Cowdenbeath in January.
Dundee have already been credited with an interest in Juanma, who trained as normal at Hearts’ Riccarton base yesterday.