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Hearts striker Steven Naismith offers Aaron Hickey advice over the difficult days of Bologna move

© SNS Group / Paul DevlinSteven Naismith has been something of a mentor to teenager Aaron Hickey
Steven Naismith has been something of a mentor to teenager Aaron Hickey

Steven Naismith has urged Aaron Hickey not to settle for second best at Bologna.

The 18-year-old has agreed a stunning move to the Serie A outfit just over a year since making the breakthrough at Hearts.

The defender consulted Naismith heavily over the switch as the likes of Bayern Munich, Celtic, Manchester City and Aston Villa tracked his progress.

In the end, the teenager plumped for Bologna because of the prospect of greater first-team opportunities.

And, with the Scotland Under-19 cap expected to initially provide back-up for Mitchell Dijks, Naismith – who had moves to Rangers, Everton and Norwich City after starting out with Kilmarnock – is adamant Hickey should aim to be more than just a squad player.

He said: “He’s a level-headed guy, and he’s moved mainly for footballing reasons. That’s the big one.

“In a few of his comments, he’s spoken about that.

“He wants to go and evolve, and whenever I’ve spoken to him about potentially going to another league, I’ve said: ‘You need to fully throw yourself into it’.

“It might feel uncomfortable, you might feel homesick, but try to get through that because that’s going to give you the best chance of feeling comfortable and performing better on the pitch.

“I’m delighted it’s finally done for him, and I think everybody’s happy.

“For the first month or so, the adrenaline will take him through it.

“But after that, he just needs to settle down and enjoy it, first and foremost, because what a move it is.

“And, secondly – as I said to him many a time last season, but also when he was moving – they might be saying you’re going to come into the squad, but your first aim is to get into the team.

“Whoever’s playing left-back, get them out of the team.

“Aaron has proved in every challenge so far that he’s up for the fight.”

The Hearts skipper added: “As a fan from the outside, you think he goes to training, brilliant, and finishes at lunch-time and all the rest of it.

“But there’s so many more emotions.

“He doesn’t know anybody, he’ll be going in really nervous, wanting his team-mates to think he’s a good player and see his qualities.

“He’ll also be wanting to impress the manager.

“So all this will be going on in the background.”