Craig Levein promises more potency in the final third as Hearts bolster attacking options


CRAIG LEVEIN is adamant Hearts will be a more potent attacking force next season after snapping up forward duo Jamie Walker and Conor Washington.

Washington, 27, has penned a two-year deal with the Jambos following his release by Sheffield United, ending Levein’s search for a striker to compliment the physicality and graft of Uche Ikpeazu.

Steven Naismith is training with Hearts at the moment and his move to Tynecastle is understood to be a formality, while Jamie Walker completed his return to Gorgie on Friday night.

CRAIG LEVEIN at a press conferenceThe close-season business has buoyed Levein and, having endured criticism for a perceived lack of style and vibrancy in the final third last term, he believes Hearts will be a different animal in the coming campaign.

“Last time I was Hearts manager, it took me two full seasons to get into a position where we had our most settled team,” recalled Levein. “I now feel much more relaxed and confident that we have the quality of player that will allow us to be more consistent.

“Last season we lacked the ability to change in forward areas. I’m confident that isn’t going to be an issue this season. I’m feeling good.

“We lacked attacking options last season. Injuries didn’t help. Now we have more ways of breaking teams down and Conor Washington is a really important signing.”

Levein’s delight at securing the signing of Washington, a £2.5m striker when QPR signed him from Peterborough in 2016, was evident, predicting his quality and work ethic will make him an immediate fans’ favourite with the Hearts faithful.

“The international players we have signed in the past have all done really well and this is a bit of a coup,” beamed Levein. “Conor is good friends with Michael Smith and Austin MacPhee [Hearts assistant head coach] knows him.

(Pic: Hearts TV)

“I don’t think it will take too much time for him to settle in. I’ve been really impressed in the chats we’ve had and with his willingness to get in and get started.

“I love his energy. He runs in behind defenders, which not a lot of strikers do these days, and brings pace. He is a decent finisher and he tries his heart out in every match. The supporters of this club love that. They love strikers with energy who will chase, harry and press.”

Levein, meanwhile, was coy regarding the future of Arnaud Djoum, who is currently starring for Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations. The 30-year-old is out of contract at Hearts this summer and saw Walker claim his number 10 shirt this week.

“I’ve still to speak to Arnaud,” added Levein. “He is away at the moment, and that will take care of itself in time.”