Hearts manager Craig Levein admits he is delighted with Kyle Lafferty’s contribution in attack this season.
The Northern Ireland internationalist took his tally to 17 in all competition last weekend after breaking the deadlock in the 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle.
The former Rangers and Norwich City marksman rounded off a well worked team goal with a close range finish and has netted nearly a third of the Gorgie outfit’s 32 Premiership goals.
Lafferty moved to Tynecastle from Norwich City last summer after turning down Hearts’ city rivals Hibs and Levein admits he is more than satisfied with the 30-year-old’s scoring exploits.
Levein said: “It’s quite a return and Kyle has been excellent, I thought he was really good at the weekend.
“His running off the ball into space, sometimes we didn’t find him and sometimes we did, he was a real handful and I’m sure if you asked the Partick defenders how hard it was to play against him, they would say extremely tough.”
Defender John Souttar also put his disappointment of being overlooked for the Scotland squad behind him by netting his first goal for the club over two years after joining from Dundee United.
Levein has previously described the 21-year-old as a ‘complete player’ but admits the centre-half could boost his reputation by being more of a threat in the opposition box.
Levein added: “I was pleased for him, he has improved enormously in the last two years he’s been here and if he can add goals as well as everything else that he does, that will make him an even better player.
“He is a lovely boy and I’m thrilled for him.”
Victory over the Jags has left Hearts six points clear of seventh place Motherwell, who have a game in hand, in the battle to finish in the top six
Hearts round off their pre-split games against Dundee and Aberdeen but Lafferty insists competing in the upper tier is the least they should be targeting.
Lafferty, who is in his country’s squad for tomorrow’s friendly against South Korea, said: “The squad and the players we have, if we didn’t make the top six we would be disappointed with our season.
“But we’re a step closer with two games to put things right and we work from there.”