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Mikoliunas in Wales for signing talks with Swansea

Published Date: 05 May 2009
SAULIUS Mikoliunas, whose four-and-a-half years with Hearts came to an abrupt end last week, is waiting to find out if Swansea City decide to follow up their stated interest in him with a firm offer. The Welsh club, who finished just below the play-off places in the Championship, are also expected to sign Queen of the South striker Stephen Dobbie on a pre-contract agreement this week.
The Dobbie deal could be signed as early as today, but no timescale has been set on an agreement with Mikoliunas. The Lithuanian winger did visit the Liberty Stadium at the weekend, however, and met with club officials, who expressed some interest in signing him.

Now 25, Mikoliunas joined Hearts at the start of 2005 along with Deividas Cesnauskis. Both were officially on loan from Kaunas, the Lithuanian club in which Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov has a controlling interest, and that remained the case until last week.

Then both players suddenly became free agents after having their loans to Hearts cancelled and being released by Kaunas. A statement on the Hearts website blamed agents for influencing the players, but the two responded by claiming they had not been paid their basic salary by Kaunas for some time. In addition, Mikoliunas had supposedly been offered a new contract on reduced terms.

The two returned to Lithuania last week, leaving their lawyers to deal with the dispute over their wages. No sooner was Mikoliunas back home, however, than he learned of Swansea's interest.

Having finished eighth in the Championship, Swansea aim to strengthen their squad with several new signings this summer, and manager Roberto Martinez has already been linked with a number of potential recruits. If he signs Dobbie and Mikoliunas he will be taking a chance on both players being able to find greater consistency.

Dobbie's career has been one in which short spells of success have contrasted with periods in which he has found it difficult to hold down a place in the team. He started his career at Rangers, but did not make any appearances for the first team, and, after a loan spell in Australia with Northern Spirit, joined Hibernian in 2003.

He spent two years at Easter Road before moving to St Johnstone, initially on loan. After again failing to command a regular starting place at McDiarmid Park he was loaned out to Dumbarton, and it was his good record there of ten goals in 17 appearances that attracted the attention of Queen of the South.

Since moving to the Dumfries club in January 2007, Dobbie has at last profited from a consistent run of appearances and is close to the 50-goal mark for the club.

Queens are understandably eager to hang on to the 26-year-old, and club manager Gordon Chisholm said they had made every effort to keep him at Palmerston. "Stephen has been offered the best contract we could possibly offer anyone as we are desperate to keep him," he said. "There's a lot of competition from down south and the Premier League, but don't underestimate how much we want him."

Two other Championship clubs, Queens Park Rangers and Ipswich Town, have also expressed an interest in signing Dobbie, while Norwich City, newly relegated to League One, were another to be connected with him. St Mirren were one of the Scottish clubs to be in touch, but now, barring a late change of heart, Dobbie is set to leave the country for Wales.

Meanwhile, Lee Wallace and Ruben Palazuelos are expected to be available for the Edinburgh derby on Thursday night after missing Hearts' loss at Ibrox on Sunday. Wallace had a virus and Palazuelos had an ankle injury, but Csaba Laszlo is confident the pair will be back for the match against Hibs at Tynecastle.

"I hope 100 per cent that both players will be okay for Thursday," the manager told the club's website yesterday. "Lee was close (to playing against Rangers] but said he didn't feel strong enough to last the 90 minutes because of the virus he had. I think he will be okay for Hibs and we also hope that Ruben will make it, too."

Taken from the Scotsman

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