Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is hopeful that Beni Baningime will be in his squad to take on Celtic – and the Everton midfielder could start his first game on Saturday.
Baningime trained with the Hearts players on Thursday and is on the brink of signing a deal with the Tynecastle club to move from Everton, with only “a few things to iron out” on the details of his three-year contract.
Neilson believes that the 22-year-old midfielder, who has played for Everton 12 times and also had a spell at Derby, could be ideally suited to his team’s style.
“He brings energy to the midfield, he is obviously of good stock, he has played six Premier League games and 12 games as a whole for a top team,” Neilson said.
“He brings energy, work ethic, moves the ball quickly. It’s an area we wanted to try and build on this season and hopefully he can do that for us.
“He has trained with us and he has played some games down there, was involved with the first team training before they went to Florida, so he is in a good place fitness wise.
“We will assess him ahead of the weekend. He will definitely be in the squad, it’s just whether he starts or not.”
Hearts start their Premiership campaign at home to Celtic and are taking encouragement from their own start to the season. Neilson said his side had plenty to be positive about, but wouldn’t read too much into Celtic’s recent struggles.
He said: “We had a really good Premier Sports Cup run, we had a really good run at the end of last season. So we are confident going into this game and hoping to win it.
“But we also know that, although Celtic had a difficult result, they are still a very good team. They still have international players almost right throughout the team.
“So we have to be wary of that but we also see an opportunity for us to go and implement how we want to play in the game, and hopefully win it.”