Hearts confirm interest in versatile Brighton defender Odel Offiah

The 20-year-old can play in the centre or on the right of defence.

Hearts confirm interest in versatile Brighton defender Odel Offiah SNS Group

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy has confirmed the club’s interest in Brighton defender Odel Offiah.

The Jambos are looking to bring the 20-year-old, who can play at centre-back and right-back, on a year-long loan deal.

Speaking ahead of the home Europa Conference League third-qualifying round encounter with Rosenborg on Thursday night – which the Jambos trail 2-1 from the first leg in Norway – McAvoy was asked about Offiah.

“We’ve looked at him,” said McAvoy.

“He is a big, strong, powerful defender who is quick and he is one we are really interested in getting through the door.

“Joe (Hearts’ sporting director Joe Savage) and Naisy (Hearts technical director Steven Naismith) will deal with the recruitment side of things but we like him and, if we can get him in here, we think he will be a good asset to the squad.”

Skipper Lawrence Shankland, who scored Hearts’ goal in Trondheim last week to give Hearts a European lifeline, has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia.

McAvoy said: “Joe and Naisy deal with recruitment and transfers. As far as I’m concerned, he hasn’t intimated to me that he wants to move on.

“I’m not surprised if there is speculation regarding him because he’s a top player, he’s our captain. I would expect interest, if I’m honest, but nothing I’m aware of at the moment.

“He’s our captain and hopefully he is available to lead our line on Thursday. We have not heard anything at all.”

McAvoy believes patience could be key to Hearts overturning the deficit to set up a meeting with HNK Hajduk Split or PAOK in the play-off round.

“We need to win the game, whether that’s in 90 minutes or 120 minutes or penalty-kicks,” he said.

“We know the task ahead and we are a goal behind. We know where we got done last week with them hitting us in transitions. We need to be mindful of that.

“Patience is probably a big thing we need from people within the stadium because they are a good team. We need to make sure that, in the big moments, we pick the right choices, the right pass, the right runs to hopefully get in behind them and create more scoring opportunities.

“That was probably the disappointing thing from the first leg and from Sunday (0-0 against Kilmarnock).

“As long as our players and staff are aware of bringing patience to the game. It’s important you have the support behind you and that they know it sometimes takes time to break down good teams.

“It’s key that we don’t go too gung-ho and then get done on the counter-attack again. Before you know it, instead of a one-goal deficit you are having to chase two and it becomes even more difficult.

“We know exactly what we need to do. We know how we are setting ourselves up and it might take 90 minutes or longer to win the game.”

McAvoy revealed Peter Haring will be “given every opportunity” as he tries to recover from an ankle injury while fellow midfielder Beni Baningime has recovered from a hamstring complaint with new signing Kenneth Vargas missing out as he was signed too late.

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