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New Hearts signing Liam Boyce impressed by club’s potential

In-demand Liam Boyce claims he always had his sights on Hearts after swapping Burton for Edinburgh.

The Northern Ireland international has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract and could make his debut in Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Rangers if Hearts get international clearance through.

A number of clubs were keen to sign the former Ross County striker and Burton accepted Hearts’ bid rather than lose him in the summer for nothing.

Boyce scored 14 goals for the Sky Bet League One club this season and was top goalscorer in the Premiership in 2016-17 with 23 for County.

The likes of Sunderland and Aberdeen were linked with the 28-year-old.

Boyce told Hearts TV: “This is a move that could have happened a couple of times before but I obviously ended up in England.

“When the opportunity presented itself again I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else and I’m buzzing to be here.

“This is an absolutely massive club, there’s potential here and having met the manager I’ve got a good idea of what he’s like.

“This is a great opportunity and hopefully we can get a couple of wins on board and build something special here.

“I obviously know Michael Smith and Conor Washington well from the Northern Ireland set-up, they’ve been texting me non-stop, they’re great lads and I’m looking forward to getting started now.”

Burton boss Nigel Clough told his club’s website: “We have reluctantly accepted the bid from Hearts – with four or five months left on his contract, there wasn’t much choice for us, really.”

Boyce is Hearts’ second signing in 24 hours after manager Daniel Stendel signed 20-year-old defender Toby Sibbick for the second time in a year.

The versatile centre-back joined Hearts on loan from Stendel’s former club Barnsley, having been bought from AFC Wimbledon last summer.

Sibbick said: “It feels great to be here. I’ve previously worked with the gaffer and he was someone who had a real belief in me as a person and as a player and hopefully I can repay him here now.

“I’m quite an athletic player, I’m quick and I enjoy the pressing style that Daniel likes to play. I think if me and the rest of the players buy into that then we can turn this around.

“I’ve been keeping fit at Barnsley, I’m ready to go so if the gaffer needs me on Sunday then I’m ready to play.”