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STEVEN NAISMITH is adamant Craig Levein’s new-look Hearts will be a force to be reckoned with in the new this season.

The Scotland international became the Tynecastle gaffer’s ELEVENTH recruit when he agreed a one-season loan deal from Norwich City.

Naismith, who spent the second half of the previous campaign at the Edinburgh outfit, is relighing the fight for a first team place.

He said: “One thing I’d say is there’s more competition for places up front now. That goes for myself as well.

“I played in the forward positions and maybe went in to games last season knowing that you would be involved, whereas this season it’s not so much of a shoo-in.

\“The gaffer has been proactive with everything. Last season we didn’t have a lot of strikers. Steven MacLean is a shrewd bit of business. He’s an old head but somebody who hasn’t always relied on pace.

“He’s an intelligent player and was an easy one for the manager.

“In midfield as well we’ve brought in a lot of bodies. We were very light in there come the end of the season. Michael Smith, a defender, was playing in there so all round there’s more competition, which is good.”

Naismith, who scored four goals in 16 appearances, added: “The new guys seem hungry, they’re

all keen to stamp their authority on what they can bring to the squad and that will be good for us.

“It brings a more consistent level. These guys you tend to find are going to give you five performances out of six, seven, eight that will be of a level that’s acceptable.

“With youngsters you’re up and down, as was the case when I was young. It’s important to start the season well, pick up some results and momentum.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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