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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Calum Murray
6 of 023 ----- L SPL H

Laszlo gives sign Velicka may return to Tynecastle

Stuart Bathgate
ANDRIUS Velicka could be on his way back to Hearts next month, initially on loan, after failing to make an impact at Rangers. Csaba Laszlo, the Tynecastle manager, said yesterday there were "12 or 13 strikers" in whom he was interested, but there is no doubt that the Lithuanian player is close to the top of his list.
Velicka, who joined Hearts from Kaunas in 2006, established himself as the club's most reliable goalscorer during the season-and-a-half in which he was on the books. He left for Viking Stavanger of Norway in February after Hearts accepted a £1million bid for him, then moved on to Rangers for a similar fee after only four months with the Scandinavian team.

The 29-year-old's Rangers debut came in the Champions League tie against his former club Kaunas at the start of the season, but he has been virtually unused since then.

"This is an interesting name," Laszlo said, laughing, when asked if he had an interest in taking Velicka back to Tynecastle. "A very interesting name.

"But also I have other names in my head. I have (an interest in] 12 or 13 strikers and I hope we can get one or two." Speaking at a press conference at the ground yesterday, Laszlo added that the list might well include a player whose surname began "with this initial", as he drew the letter V on the table.

Hearts have risen to fourth in the SPL this season despite failing to find a regular goalscorer. The Danish striker Mike Tullberg has hardly played because of injury, Jamie Mole has consistently failed to show his best form, and Gary Glen has been given scarce opportunities.

The weight of expectation has thus fallen on Christian Nade. The Frenchman has displayed excellent close control at times, is far fitter than he was last season and is also adept at holding up the ball. But he has only scored a handful of goals since joining Hearts, and as a result it has been left largely to the midfield to get on the scoresheet.

Velicka is Nade's equal in most aspects of the game, and is superior when it comes to finishing. Throughout the autumn of 2007, as Hearts struggled to find their form during a league campaign which ended in their failing to get into the top six of the SPL, Velicka consistently maintained his own high standards in adverse circumstances. Given the general improvement in the team's play since then, an even better return could reasonably be expected of him.

One of the main reasons for that improvement has been the return to action of Bruno Aguiar – but Laszlo revealed that the Portuguese playmaker will miss out on Saturday's league match against Hibernian and the rearranged SPL fixture at Motherwell next Wednesday. "Bruno has a muscle problem (in his leg]," the manager said. "He was out for 18 months and it is to do with that. Maybe he will be back for the Scottish Cup game."

That match is at Easter Road a week on Sunday, but apart from mentioning Aguiar's possible return for it, Laszlo is not looking so far ahead. His concern is the game at Tynecastle on Saturday, in which he hinted he will make a tactical change.

"We will try tactically to do something different," he said, knowing that the suspension of Marius Zaliukas and Lee Wallace would force him into a couple of alterations to the line-up.

Like Aguiar, Deividas Cesnauskis missed the defeat at Aberdeen on Saturday, through illness. But the Lithuanian winger has been declared fit for the home game against Hibs.

Taken from the Scotsman

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