Hearts have sounded out Norwich City about the possibility of signing Steven Naismith – and could yet beat Rangers to the punch.
Craig Levein is undertaking a massive January rebuilding project and, having confirmed the loan signing of young Manchester United left back Demetri Mitchell, is eager to add experience at the top end of the team.
Scotland international Naismith, now 31 and completely out of the first-team picture at Carrow Road, has openly touted himself for a move back to Ibrox and even floated the idea of playing for free until the end of the season.
Steven Naismith has revealed he would be willing to make a dramatic return to Ibrox
But Norwich’s record buy, an £8.5million signing just two years ago and contracted to the club until the summer of 2019, may be tempted by a return to Scotland with the Tynecastle outfit after they made enquiries about the forward’ s availability.
It’s understood the English Championship club will not be looking for a significant fee for the former Kilmarnock player who recently declared: ‘When I come back to Scotland it won’t be about finances, it will be about what I think is the right fit for me.’
Meanwhile, Hearts confirmed last night that Mitchell – who turned 21 yesterday – had completed his loan move until the end of the season, pending international clearance.
The striker admits he may have to leave Carrow Road in order to secure regular minutes
The former England youth international is flying out to join the rest of the first team at their training camp just outside Valencia today.
Levein hopes he can be the solution to the team’s long-standing problem at left-back, and the youngster could don a maroon jersey for the first time in tomorrow’s friendly against German second-tier side Nuremberg.
Levein, whose team take on Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem today, is excited about what Mitchell can offer.
‘He’s an exciting young talent at Manchester United. They think very highly of him and feel it’s time for him to go out and play on loan.
Naismith is still held in high regard in Scotland and is looking to kick-start his career again
‘He was a winger converted to full back and we’re looking for some balance there in the team.
‘We’ve spoken regularly about trying to find a balance and I’m sure Demetri will provide us with that.
‘With bringing in somebody so young there are obviously difficulties as well, because he has to hit the ground running. But he’s a confident young lad and I’ m sure he’ll be a valuable addition.’
Mitchell joined United’s youth academy at ten and made his one first-team appearance when Jose Mourinho included him in a Premier League victory over Crystal Palace last May.
His arrival will see Ashley Smith-Brown’s season-long loan arrangement cut short. The defender, also 21, joined Hearts from Manchester City last summer but has played just two Premiership matches due to injury and hasn’t featured since September.
Levein said: ‘Ash is a different situation becasuse he’s been constantly injured. That deal is probably going to be concluded.’