Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon has returned to training with the first-team after nine-months out following a double leg-break late last year.
The legendary stopper is still a bit away from being ready to play again but Steven Naismith says his return has been a welcome boost to the squad.
Scotland international Gordon, who has made 277 appearances for the Jambos across two spells at Tynecastle, has already been producing the kind of trademark saves that has become his signature in a 22-year playing career.
The 40-year-old, who has also played for Celtic and Sunderland, suffered the horror injury that looked as if it could potentially end his career on Boxing Day 2022.
But he is already on the road to recovery and joined in with training this week as the club prepare to visit Paisley to take on second placed St Mirren in Premiership action,
Naismith, who returned to his position as head coach before last week’s win over Aberdeen, said: “He’s involved in some parts of training but he is just going through that period where he is building up his intensity, his minutes, and what he’s doing.
“Yes, he is back with the group but that’s not an indication that he will be back in a squad any time soon.
“That’s more building his robustness up, getting back into it. When you have had that amount of time off the pitch, it’s really important that you don’t just go from zero to 100 and start breaking down with other injuries.
“He is in a really good place, he is looking a lot like he was before, which is fantastic news for us, but we can’t get too carried away and rush it.
“All round for everybody it’s good. In terms of being on the pitch, as any player and even the guys that have come in that he has not actually played with, when he comes back into training and he’s making some of the saves that he makes, people take note and realise how good a goalie he is.
“It’s a good sight for us, to be honest.”
Hearts are looking to build momentum after ending a four-match losing streak with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Dons.
But Naismith knows they face a tough test against an in-form St Mirren who are second only to champions Celtic in the table.
He said: “Training this week has been good.
“I would say that’s been quite consistent though since I have been taking the team since last season.
“Everybody feels better after a good result and on top of that I feel we had some really good parts of the team.
“It’s been a really good week’s work, lots of work because we are coming up against a team who are really good and have started the season really well, unbeaten, and they have come up against a variety of teams playing different ways.
“They are well equipped and well organised and if ever we need anything to show us what the game is going to be like, it’s the performance we had last season there, we came out with a draw but we did a lot of things wrong and got punished for it.
“This game is vitally important for us and we need to be starting the game better than we did the last time there.”
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