Tony Watt: Hearts in talks with former Celtic striker

Tony Watt in action for Scotland against the Czech republic in March
Watt made his Scotland debut off the bench in a friendly win over the Czech Republic in March
Hearts v Birkirkara (0-0) Europa League second qualifying round, second leg
Venue: Tynecastle Date: Thursday, 21 July Kick-off: 20:00
Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland, live text on BBC Sport website

Hearts are in talks with former Celtic striker Tony Watt over a potential move from Charlton Athletic.

The Tynecastle outfit are looking at bringing the 22-year-old in on a one-year loan deal.

Watt is best known for scoring the winning goal in Celtic's Champions League win over Barcelona in 2012.

He had spells at Belgian clubs Lierse and Standard Liege before signing for Charlton, but was subsequently on loan at Cardiff and Blackburn last season.

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has confirmed German defender Marcel Appiah is training with the squad, ahead of the second leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie against Maltese side Birkirkara on Thursday.

The 28-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-back, played against Sunderland in a closed-door game at Riccarton on Saturday.

Appiah has previously played for German club Arminia Bielefeld but spent the last two years in the Netherlands with NEC Nijmegen.

"We have had a few defenders in recently," Neilson said. "We had [Northern Ireland international] Liam Donnelly in last week. We have a German in this week. It's an area we need one more in.

"We are still looking to recruit. We are still looking for a striker and we need a wide player as well. I'm really happy with the squad I have at the moment and it's just adding that little bit of quality. If that takes a little bit of time then I'm more than happy to wait."

Hearts fought out a 0-0 draw in Malta last week
Hearts fought out a 0-0 draw in Malta last week

Hearts drew 0-0 in the searing heat of Malta last week and are favourites to progress to the third qualifying round of the Europa League, where they would meet Krasnodar, who finished fourth in the Russian Premier League last season.

Neilson is banking on an early goal to settle any nerves at Tynecastle.

"That's the hope," he told BBC Scotland. "We almost did it over there when we got a goal chalked off after three minutes. I thought we played really well but just couldn't get the goal."

Birkirkara rarely ventured forward at home to Hearts, content to try and hit the visitors on the break, and Neilson expects similar tactics from the Maltese side in the return leg.

"I think we need to be patient," he explained. "We need to realise the way they play is very difficult to break down.

"With a good pitch and a good crowd behind, I think we have the quality to score goals."

Hearts winger Jamie Walker
Winger Jamie Walker says the Hearts players are enjoying their taste of European football

Thursday's game will be Hearts' fourth European match this season and Neilson believes it is a much better way to prepare for the long campaign ahead rather than playing meaningless friendly matches.

"The key is staying in Europe and continuing to play competitive games," he added.

"The difficult thing about Europe starting so early is if you don't make it through the first round, you are then trying to scramble about for pre-season games. The longer you stay in Europe, the games get more competitive and the fitness levels go up."

Winger Jamie Walker says the players are also happier playing in Europe at this time of year.

"That's been the subject of a lot of talk in the dressing room." said Walker. "You come back early but at least you are not playing pre-season games. It's competitive football and everybody just wants to get through."

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