Steven Naismith admitted interest in talismanic captain Lawrence Shankland is inevitable after he continued his red-hot scoring form with a double in Hearts’ 2-0 cinch Premiership win over St Mirren.
The Scotland forward notched a poacher’s header in the first half and then a stunning strike early in the second that opposing manager Stephen Robinson described as “an incredible finish”.
Shankland has now scored 43 goals in 18 months since joining Hearts and Naismith anticipates other clubs to test their resolve in the January window.
“I think there is already interest in him,” said the Jambos boss.
“When you have got players playing at the top of their game there is going to be interest.
“Every club in Scotland are in that same category where we are not at the elite, top level where you can just push away anyone being interested in your players – but that doesn’t change anything.
“We are a club that’s in a really good situation. We are progressive and we want to get better as a business, better as a football squad, and having Shanks is part of that.
“So no, everyone is comfortable. The pleasing aspect is that he is doing so well. It’s credit to the team, credit to Shanks and credit to us all as a group. There is going to be interest when you are doing well.
“The first goal, Shanks is instinctively in the right place as a forward. For the second one, as soon as he takes his first touch he knows what he is doing.
“There’s no panic, there’s no rushed feeling. As soon as it leaves his boot he knows it’s a goal, 100 per cent. It’s top, top quality but that’s Shanks. That shows you his value to us.”
Naismith was delighted with a victory that took Hearts two points clear in third place with a game in hand.
“After games you go through each part,” he said.
“The result, good. Two goals, good. Clean sheet, good. So it is really pleasing against a team who have been really good this season.”
St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson rued his team’s lack of attacking quality as they suffered a fourth defeat in six matches.
“We got what we deserved. First half we pressed really well and won the ball back on numerous occasions and had lots of opportunities to play forward and penetrate but we didn’t do that with any quality,” he said.
“That’s frustrating because we’re better than that. We ended up losing a goal from a set-play which has been our Achilles heel. It’s so frustrating.
“Lawrence has scored a lot of goals there and we pointed that out beforehand but we went in 1-0 because of that, not because of them opening us up.
“The second goal was exceptional and it killed any momentum we had. That’s the difference between the levels, the financial disparity is huge and that’s why they’re able to get players like Lawrence Shankland. It was an incredible finish.”