BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
STEVEN NAISMITH admits seeing his future in a state of limbo is ‘frustrating’ as Hearts step up their efforts to sign the Scotland star on a permanent deal.
Craig Levein has made no secret of his desire to snap up the 31-year-old, who has made 10 appearances for the Jambos since his January temporary switch from Norwich, and revealed yesterday that he had ‘made inroads’ in talks with those loan stars that he would like to keep.
Naismith, for his part, is keen to settle in Scotland once more and has lapped up his brief stay in the capital thus far.
However, the former Rangers and Everton ace is acutely aware that his fate largely depends on the power-brokers at Norwich, given he still has another year to run on his £50,000-a-week contract with the Canaries.
While a circumspect, experienced character, Naismith concedes that the uncertainty is unfamiliar and challenging.
“Even as a laid back person, it’s actually a frustrating position to be in because this situation is not totally in my hands,” Naismith said. “I am enjoying every minute of being at Hearts and being back in Scotland but there is nothing definitive I can say right now.
“I have a year left of my contract at Norwich and I have not had any conversations with them as opposed to what they want to do.
“The general consensus is they are going to go with a younger squad next season and if that is the case then I would assume I am not in their plans.
“Hearts have made it clear that if there was the possibility to do something then they would like to and I do appreciate that and everything they have done for me. They have given me the chance to get back playing and I have so much respect for everyone at the club.
“It is hard for me to commit to anything when I don’t know what Norwich want to do. I’m sure things will get sorted eventually but I have never been in this position before.”
Naismith concedes that, even as a veteran of 45 Scotland caps and more than 300 senior games, his return north of the border has been a learning curve – from nurturing young talent such as Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald to adjusting to Hearts’ Oriam training base.
But, now fully fit following a persistent hamstring complaint, he is ready to enjoy a blistering finale to the campaign.
“It’s been difficult in the sense that I have had to adapt to playing up here once again,” continued Naismith. “Even though the facilities we have at Oriam are terrific it is still on a different level to down south.
“We also have a really young squad and I have had to learn how to help the younger boys we have here by talking them through things and giving little pointers here and there.
“I have really enjoyed that and I know it is going to help me in the future if I do look to go down the coaching of management side of things.”
He added: “I did have a bit of a hamstring problem not long after I came back up but I think that was mainly down to not having played for so long, but this last international break was a big help to me in getting over that and it is no longer an issue for me.”
Naismith will lead the line for the Jambos against struggling Dundee tomorrow afternoon in an encounter which could secure their top-six status, now the absolute minimum expected from what has proved an underwhelming campaign for the capital club.
However, he is loathe to underestimate the challenge posed by the Dens Park outfit.
“We have been strong defensively for a lot of the season without maybe being as good at the other end,” added Naisy. “But we managed to a lot of work during the international break going forward and there were times when I could see things really start to come together in an attacking sense.
“Dundee will be a difficult test. They are in a tough spot but I don’t think their results have reflected how well they have played this season. It has been fine margins. They like to play football, they are not a team who lumps the ball forward, they have decent players and we need to be wary of that.”