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Stendel hopes returning Naismith gives Hearts scoring spark

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel hopes Steven Naismith can give his side the inspiration they need to improve their attacking play.

Naismith could return from injury when Hearts travel to Hamilton in a battle of the bottom two in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The 33-year-old Scotland international has missed much of the season with hamstring problems after being blighted by knee trouble last term.

Naismith’s initial injury last season coincided with Hearts’ slump from table-toppers to a team holding on to a top-six place and ultimately struggling this season.

Hearts have only scored once in six matches and Stendel hopes Naismith can help them get off the mark in his third game in charge.

“I hope Naisy can return to the squad,” Stendel said. “I feel he can help our team so much, not only on the pitch but off the pitch.

“His experience and his quality, I hope he is fit for the next games and we can get a good impact.

“I talked with him three years ago, we had a friendly game with Hannover against Norwich. Since then I have known him a little bit better.

“And when I watched the last games he has played, I can see he is not the youngest player in our squad but he is the most experienced and especially in the offence, he has really good quality to help us create more chances.

“The step to the Celtic game was good but we need goals and we can improve, especially in the final third.

“This is important in every game, with more ideas to play in possession because I think we will have more of the ball than we did against Celtic.”

Stendel knows his team will have to battle in Lanarkshire.

“I expect a hard game for us and a close game, especially with my experience from the St Johnstone game,” the German said.

“It’s special, the situation for both clubs. We need the right mentality to play this game and I expect that we play better than last Saturday.

“We need to expect a hard fight and have the right mentality for this game.

“Normally games between teams at the bottom of the table are about fighting for every point.”