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Hearts closing in on deal for Australian midfielder Cameron Devlin

Heart of Midlothian v Hibernian – William Hill Scottish Cup – Semi Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson hopes to seal a deal for Cameron Devlin, who represented Australia at Tokyo 2020.

The 23-year-old midfielder is set to join Hearts when a work permit is secured, and after he completes a spell in quarantine following his trip to Tokyo.

Devlin has made 51 A-League appearances, mostly for Wellington Phoenix, before joining Newcastle Jets on a two-year deal in late June. But he is set to move on again.

Neilson said: “We’ve got a deal agreed with the club and the player, there’s now just a few issues with the visa and making sure we can get him over. The deal isn’t concluded yet but we are pretty far down the line.

“He’s a combative midfielder, aggressive, wins the ball back, really good in possession as well. Good experience now and one of the key things for us is he is a good age as well. We have been trying to get the average age of the squad down.”

Hearts this week allowed out-of-favour midfielder Loic Damour to join Le Mans on a season-long loan but Neilson already has options in central midfield, with Peter Haring starting last Saturday’s win over Celtic on the bench as Beni Baningime made his debut.

“It’s really important we have competition,” said Neilson, who added that there was nothing in reports linking him with a move for Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland.

“Some of the centre midfielders can play at the back, some can play in the wing-back areas. At times, we will play with two sitters and two more advanced midfielders so it’s important we have options in that area.

“If we can get Cammy over the line, it gives us options in there and then we look at the defensive line and make sure we get some good options there. There’s a couple of players we are looking at and it’s just a case of trying to get them done.”

Meanwhile, Neilson has warned his players that a trip to Paisley on Saturday – where Hearts have not won since March 2012 – could be harder than their opening win over Celtic.

“It was obviously a good result on Saturday night but when we got back in on Monday it was all eyes on St Mirren because, to be honest, it will probably be a harder game, because it’s an away game for us and it’s been a long time since Hearts won at St Mirren,” he said.

“For a lot of the players, they have maybe never been in the Premiership with Hearts or seen Hearts in the Premiership so it’s a realisation for them that we are expected to win week in, week out.

“We have to back up the way we played on Saturday with the same level of performance and commitment. We need to go down there and win if we have aspirations of being where we want to be at the end of the season.”