Hearts boss Steven Naismith has hailed “natural goal-scorer” Lawrence Shankland after the forward was named Player of the Month for November.
The Scotland striker has scored 11 goals in all competitions this season including four last month as the Tynecastle club leapfrogged St Mirren into third place with four wins on the spin.
It was a Gorgie double in the monthly awards with Naismith himself being named Premiership Manager of the Month.
And he revealed he had no doubts that Shankland, who also scored for Scotland against Georgia in their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier, would be amongst the goals again after a barren run earlier in the season.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday ahead of their game against Rangers on Wednesday he said: “I was never concerned, it would have been nice if he was scoring more regularly at the start of the season but there’s so many reasons for it.
“He never really had a great summer because he was involved with Scotland, he always wants to be involved with the squad so he is back in and around it as soon as he can and generally for international players now there is limited time to rest and recover.
“And it’s not just physical it’s mental as well, which is really tough as a player, but within the time he wasn’t scoring I felt he was contributing in other ways and I think that’s a part of his game that he has developed in the last two or three years.
“That’s why he’s spoke about in the manner he is, any goal-scorer goes through spells where they don’t score goals. But they still never change their habits, they never change where they are going in the box or how they are finishing because they know it will come back.
“And that’s what happened in the period when Shanks has been scoring again.
“I think that’s the difference in a natural goal-scorer, he’s been brought up scoring goals, as a kid that’s what his best attributes were, so it doesn’t weigh on them because they have that confidence and they’ve probably been there time and time before.”
“They conversations will be had at the right moment, I think when you get more experienced as a player and as a club it’s not something you have to jump on straight away, he’s a very important player at the club, he’s very highly valued here, he’ll know that and everyone around the club knows that so they conversations will happen at the right time.
“But at the moment it’s just about focusing on that good run and continuing what we are doing and for Shanks to continue what he is doing.”
Hearts host Rangers in Edinburgh on Wednesday in what will be the third meeting between the pair in just over a month.
Philippe Clement’s side have won the previous two, with a late winner deciding a league game at Ibrox before a 3-1 victory at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final, but Naismith is looking to make amends for those results with a victory in front of their own fans.
He said: “We want to be on the front foot and cause them problems and we want to win the game, whether that is against Rangers or anybody else we go into the game wanting the result and we know how important results are.”
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