Jordan Roberts is set for a fresh start at Hearts after returning from his loan spell at Motherwell.
The former Inverness CT and Ipswich Town winger signed a two-year contract at Tynecastle last summer, but struggled to achieve the desired impact despite regular play.
After falling out of favor for a starting spot, Roberts seized the chance to get Premiership football under his belt by loaning to Motherwell.
He appeared to be returning to form in Lanarkshire, the highlight being the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road for the Steelmen.
An injury cut his fate at Fir Park short and forced him to return for the preseason with injured Robbie Neilson’s side.
But he’s slowly coming back to full form after friendly outings and Neilson insists last season’s struggles mean nothing until another campaign.
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“Jordan did well in the pre-season,” he told the Edinburgh Evening News. “He was injured when we first came back due to a little problem he picked up in Motherwell. He looked good in Saturday’s game, but he only played 30 minutes.
“Like everyone else in the pre-season, they have the chance to impress and make a place for themselves in the team.
“I think the time at Motherwell has benefited Jordan, just giving him playing time. I have said previously that he found it quite difficult when he came to Scotland. He was alone during the lockdown and that made it difficult.
“He’s come back and things have opened up a bit, so he seems to be in a good position.
“I think every season is a new start for every player – to prove themselves, get back in shape and make the team. Jordan is like every other player who returns in preseason. If they are successful, they will be involved.
Hearts will play another friendly against Bonnyrigg Rise this week ahead of the Premier Sports Cup group stages start in Peterhead on Saturday.
It will likely be more of a scratch side playing in the Midlothian, but one or two more established names such as Roberts and Stephen Kingsley will feature.
Neilson added, “We have a few first-team boys who need some playing time,” Neilson said.
“Stephen and Jordan both need games, and there are a few more that could do a little bit more. Some of the younger boys will join us as well.