Wednesday, August 10, 2022
SportHeartsHearts coach reckons Lawrence Shankland is a better player following stint abroad

Hearts coach reckons Lawrence Shankland is a better player following stint abroad

HEARTS number two Lee McCulloch reckons Lawrence Shankland has returned to Scotland an even better player.

The striker joined the Gorgie outfit on a three-year deal on Wednesday following a difficult 12 months in Belgium with Beerschot.

The Scotland international only managed four goals in 26 league outings for a team that was relegated from the Jupiler Pro League.

However, McCulloch believes the 26-year-old’s spell abroad was far from a waste of time.

Lawrence Shankland holding a Hearts scarf aloft.
Shankland has signed a 3-year-deal at Tynecastle (Pic: Hearts FC)

McCulloch, who was part of the coaching staff at Dundee United when current Hearts boss Robbie Neilson brought Shankland to Tannadice in 2019, said: “Is he a more developed player? I think he is. He recently had a kid as well so that helps people grow up a bit quicker. 

“It’s good he’s experienced different football, a real good standard of football abroad in Belgium. 

“He’ll come back more experienced, definitely, and having spoken to him he’s hungry to get on the pitch and help the team.

“I’m delighted to be working with Lawrence again, we worked with him before for a long period of time and he proved himself at Ayr United and then at Dundee United. 

“It’s brilliant to have him at the club, he’s a fantastic guy in the dressing room, he’s grounded, hard working and hopefully he’ll come in and I’m more than confident he will do the business on the pitch.”

Shankland scored 28 goals in all competition as Dundee United won the Championship title under Neilson in 2020 before finding the net eight times in the Premiership with Micky Mellon in charge.

Former Rangers and Scotland midfielder McCulloch believes Shankland is capable of rediscovering the scoring form he showed under Neilson.

He added: “He definitely has it in him, it might take him a little bit of time to settle because it’s a new club. 

“I’m more than confident he’ll come in and do well for the team. 

“You can’t forget we’ve still got Liam Boyce and he is more than capable of scoring goals. 

“I think the competition for places is there now. If it’s two of them playing for just the one – that’s the managers call – they’ll both be ready to go.”

Hearts fans are likely to see Shankland in action for the first time in today’s friendly at home to Stoke City after his registration did not come through in time for Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Preston.

McCulloch insists the forward’s game is not all about finding the net.

He said: “In my opinion Shanks brings more than just goals to a team and that’s what the manager will be asking of him. 

“He’s been capped for Scotland, he scored as well. He’s a natural goal scorer but he’s a really good football player, which a lot of people get away from because of his goals and that’s all everybody talks about. 

“He’ll come in when called upon and I’m more than confident he will do well.”

McCulloch, meanwhile, insists the visit of Championship side Stoke City is the ideal challenge ahead of next week’s Premiership curtain raiser against Ross County.

He added: “We’re progressing along very nicely in terms of where we want to be, that was a good test for us against Preston.

“We need to build on that again on Saturday as it’s the last game before the real ball comes out.

“We’ll be looking to bring a bit of a competitive edge to it, especially going into the Ross County game the following week.”

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