BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RYAN EDWARDS is adamant firing Hearts to silverware can be his gateway to Australia recognition after penning a two-year deal with the Jambos.
Edwards, 24, is the capital club’s eighth signing of a whirlwind close-season as manager Craig Levein wastes no time in overhauling his squad.
The combative Aussie was available on a free transfer after invoking a clause in his contract allowing him to leave Partick Thistle following their relegation to the Championship.
Edwards, who joined the Jags from Reading in 2015, has represented his country at under-20 and under-23 level and was called up to the senior squad last March for World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and the UAE without getting on the pitch.
He believes his switch to Tynecastle could finally make his Socceroo dream come true.
“This move could be really important for me to get into the national team, which is something I want to make happen,” said Edwards.
“I’ve been close previously with Thistle and in my time with Reading, so hopefully my performances from now on can help me achieve that.
“I was a disappointing time last season, to finish with relegation at Thistle but I’m really grateful to Hearts and the manager, Craig [Levein], for giving me the opportunity to come here.”
Edwards’ arrival follows the captures of compatriot Ben Garuccio, Zdenek Zlamal, Steven MacLean, Olly Lee, Uche Ikpeazu, Bobby Burns and Jake Mulraney.
He insists aspirations are lofty for a new-look Hearts squad as they prepare to return for pre-season training, with Edwards steeled to challenge for a trophy while driving the Jambos back to European football.
“I sat down one-on-one with the manager and had a good chat about what he expects from me and the team going forward,” continued Edwards.
“The ambition on a personal level is to be part of a squad that is challenging for cups, fighting at the top end of the table and looking to get into Europe. That is something I really want to achieve.”
Edwards bagged eight goals in 108 appearances during his three campaigns at Firhill and was a pivotal part on the side which registered a sixth-place finish in the Premiership in 2016/17 – the club’s highest ever top-flight position.
And he is determined to bring a mix of craft and graft to the Hearts midfield.
“I’ve got a lot of energy and I’m hard-working and I think one of my main strengths is my never-say-die attitude,” he told Hearts TV.
“I’ll keep going until the end and work hard for my teammates and for the fans. However, I don’t want that to be the be-all and end-all of my game and I want to contribute goals and assists.”