Naismith to come up against fellow Norwich City loan star Martin as Hearts head to Rangers
PUBLISHED: 10:11 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 23 February 2018
On-loan Norwich City player Steven Naismith could be in for a rough ride in a game of Friends Reunited on Saturday.
Naismith is expected to be in the Hearts squad for the Scottish Premier League clash against Rangers, who have on-loan City defender Russell Martin among their number. Add in Heart’s former Canaries striker Kyle Lafferty and it looks from a distance like the beginnings of a City reserves team match of a year ago.
But north of the border, the focus is likely to be on Naismith, a former Rangers player who upset their fans with the manner of his Ibrox departure in 2012 when he lodged an objection against his contract being transferred to the new Rangers company. He joined Everton on a free transfer and the whole episode didn’t go down well – he was labelled a traitor by some Rangers fans.
Naismith has admitted his regret at the circumstances of his departure, but will probably discover today how Rangers fans feel about it.
The 31-year-old is expected to recover from a hamstring injury for the trip to Ibrox and Hearts boss Craig Levein believes he can handle the boo boys.
Levein said: “One of the reasons I say it’s good we can go to Ibrox with players like Naismith and [fellow former Ger, Kyle] Lafferty is that they can handle everything. They’ve played in bigger arenas than this. Steven is an experienced player.
“It won’t faze him at all. In all honesty, it has not been in my head. It has just been whether his hamstring is at a point where it can get through the game without any further injury.
“Regards the further injury thing, we have 12 or 13 games to go, and having him out for a longer period of time is the thing that worries me more than anything. So we’ll see how he gets on.
“But, players like him, they’re not fazed, not nervous, not worried about playing at the venue. They just go into these games thinking, ‘I need to be at the top of my game today’. They’ll take the ball under pressure, and when an opportunity arises there’s no fear.
“My only thing is if Steven is going to be fit or not. If he is, I can pitch him in without worrying about anything.”