First team

Naismith previews busy week

19 January 2024

Steven Naismith admits the winter break came at a good time for the Jambos, but is now very much focussed on a three-game week for Hearts, which begins at Ainslie Park on Saturday.


The men in maroon make the short trip to face The Spartans in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup fourth-round and the head coach admits Hearts will need to be on their game to avoid a cup exit.


Speaking to the media at the pre-match press conference, Naismith said:


“The break has been good. You could see in our last couple of performances before the break, that we were a wee bit leggy, a wee bit fatigued and we had a few injuries that put a bit more strain on more of the players.


“It came at a good time for us. The boys have now come back in and they look refreshed. We’ve had a really good week of training which has helped us.


“It’ll be a different, awkward game. It’s the beauty of the Scottish Cup. The players are going to different surroundings, which will be tricky. You have the understanding of people expecting you to just roll these teams over.


“But we have a good understanding of Spartans, as we have a good link with them as a club. Our B Team play their home games there and they’re very near to us. They’re a fantastic community club, who are trying to be progressive, and we played them earlier on in the season.


“It will be a tough game. We need to make sure that we are professional. In these games, people can think you just need to turn up to win, but that is never the case.


“Nowadays, in the professional game, the athleticism and organisation of players is very good, so we need to make sure we put them under pressure and ask them questions.”


The club confirmed earlier today confirmed that Alan Forrest has signed a new contract which will keep him in Gorgie until the summer of 2026.


It is a contract that Naismith believes is Forrest’s reward for his consistent performances this season. 


“It’s brilliant. Al is somebody who has seen the opportunity to come to the club as the next step in his career. He then needs to prove and understand what he is going to, prove to the fans he’s good enough and understand the demands at the club and over the length of the contract he has had, he has done that.


“I think this is the most consistent he has been. That is something I challenged him at the start of the season. I challenged him with that at the start of the season, impacting games more, coming off as one of the consistent performers and he has done that.


“From our point of view, the new contract is great that we are keeping a valuable asset, but the hard work was all done by Al. He deserves it, so it’s fantastic to get that done.”