BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JUANMA DELGADO has vowed to kick-start his career with UCAM Murcia after admitting the lure of a return to Spain was too strong to ignore.
The towering striker bagged 13 goals last term but found himself frozen out of the Jambos side this season following the arrivals of Tony Watt, Conor Sammon, Bjorn Johnsen and Robbie Muirhead.
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson criticised the 25-year-old earlier this summer, stating “he’s not been doing great in training and games”, and he departed the club on a one-year loan deal on deadline day.
Juanma has another two years to run on his contract at Tynecastle but, for the moment, the former Asteras Tripoli and Kalloni front-man is focused on starring in Spain.
“To come home and play in Spain was a massive incentive for me,” Juanma said. “It is a big professional challenge for me to join a club in the Segunda Division and I hope to make a real success of it.
“I was very young when I first left Spain and I feel like my experiences in Greece and Scotland have helped me to mature, now I want to prove that in the coming season.
“I’m a strong player and I will bring work rate and goals to the team.
“It is my first few days, but already I’ve been given a great welcome by my teammates. I love this city and want to enjoy a great season at Murcia.”
Juanma could make his first appearance for Murcia this evening when they race Real Oviedo in the Copa del Rey.
Meanwhile, Hearts winger Sam Nicholson admits the return of Rangers to the Scottish Premiership has made life tougher for the Jambos – but remains determined to improve on last season’s third-place finish.
Nicholson has been away on international duty with Scotland under-21s this week, culminating in the chastening 4-0 defeat in Ukraine which cost Ricky Sbragia his job, but his attention will swiftly return to domestic matters.
The capital club, who face Hamilton at Tynecastle on Saturday, are one point behind Mark Warburton’s men ahead of the first top-flight Old Firm clash since April 2012.
And Nicholson is determined to play a key part in Hearts’ bid to cement their status as challengers to Celtic – regardless of the Gers’ presence.
Nicholson said: “You want to be improving every single year. We finished third last year and now that Rangers are in the division it is obviously going to be harder, but the boys are still pushing to do better.
“It is all down to us and how much we want it. If the boys are putting the hours on the training ground then hopefully something really good will come from it this season.
“We are all on the same wavelength when it comes to wanting to achieve the highest position we possibly can in the league and, on a personal level, I need to be providing and scoring goals.”