First team

Naismith previews Paisley trip

14 May 2024

Steven Naismith admits he’s looking for more of the same from his Hearts side as they prepare to take on St Mirren in the cinch Premiership on Wednesday night. 


The Hearts head coach believes with the pre-season objective of third place already achieved, it's about finding enjoyment from the final few matches, something he believes his side managed to do in the weekend’s victory over Dundee.


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


“We’re looking forward to it because of the result and the performance at the weekend. It was really enjoyable. It’s not very often you get three weeks of the season to go, where you’ve hit your targets already.


“The next part was to find the enjoyment and I think we did that at the weekend, and we’ve got another opportunity to do that again tomorrow night.”


It wasn’t a classic when the sides last met in Paisley, largely due to the conditons, but a Jorge Grant penalty, as well as an own goal, saw the men in maroon take all three points.


“The last game [in Paisley] was spoiled a bit by the wind, but we managed to grind it out and do what it takes to get the win. I think this time, there will be a bit more football played, but in terms of the team that we’re coming up against, they’re well-drilled and well-organised.


“They’ve got a good system that they play, and I think you can see that they’ve been together for some time as a squad.


“I’d expect them to be similar, the personnel might change, due to where we’re at in the season, but we need to go and understand that it will be a tough game but know that we will cause them problems.


“They’re a good footballing team, which I think goes unnoticed a bit. They’ve always got players on the attack, happy to commit bodies forward. Stephen has done a brilliant job over the years to steadily build, get them into the top six and potentially Europe, which would be a massive achievement. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we think we can cause them problems.”


Barrie McKay bagged two assists in that weekend victory at Tynecastle Park and Naismith admits that with a full pre-season under his belt, there is a lot more to come next season from the wide man.


“He’s had a really frustrating season. He’s a big player. In his last two starts, he shows his quality. I think he’s one of the most talented players in our group. What we’re getting from him now is a bonus, as with a full pre-season under his belt, he’ll be in a much better shape, and he’ll be a brilliant asset for us in what will be a tough season.


“So that’s great for him, but there’s a few others that are coming back and getting more minutes which is important for everybody.”


Finally, Naismith confirmed that Jorge Grant and Stephen Kingsley will both miss the trip west on Wednesday night.


“Jorge Grant has got an illness, so he’s probably not going to be involved. Stephen Kingsley is feeling a bit fatigued, and there’s a nerve giving him a sensation in his leg, so he won’t be risked. Other than that, we’ve got everyone fit and available.”


You can watch Steven’s press conference in full on Hearts TV.