Hearts boss backs Lawrence Shankland for awards clean sweep as Steven Naismith sets points target

Steven Naismith has tipped Lawrence Shankland for an awards clean sweep and has set his Hearts side a points total challenge for the final three games.

The Tynecastle skipper became the first player from his club to land the PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year award on Sunday night. He has now been named as a nominee for the Scottish Football Writers' Association top prize alongside Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovski, Celtic midfielder Matt O'Riley and Rangers No 1 Jack Butland. It's been quite the season for Shankland with 28 club goals to his name to date. He's also looking a cert for Steve Clarke's Scotland squad that will kick-off Euro 2024 with hosts Germany in just five weeks.

On his star man, Naismith said: "I expected him to win it and I think he will win them all. That's because he deserves them. The parts that come out after of him being the first Hearts player ever to win that award tells you the magnitude of it.

"If you look at the roll of honour of these awards, it is 80-90 per cent Old Firm players. Inevitably, because they are in squads that are valued higher, they create more chances, they dominate more games. For Lawrence to do what he has done, not just this season but last season, shows you his level of consistency, shows his determination, shows his quality. As he has got older he has got much better as a player.

"It's a brilliant, brilliant achievement, for him personally but for us as a squad to have the guy who has scored all those goals and got player of the year. It shows we have been doing stuff right all season."

Shankland is just two strikes away from a 30-goal campaign in Gorgie with the Jambos welcoming Dundee to the capital this weekend. Naismith and Co. have already clinched third spot and a guaranteed European group stage adventure next term.

But the Hearts boss is looking to land at least SEVEN points from their final three matches. They currently have 63 points on the board with Naisy wanting to end the campaign by hitting the 70 landmark. He added: "We want to win. I want us to get to 70 points if we can and we have a lot of work to do in the last three games for that.

"Throughout the season we have rotated our squad quite a bit and with a three-game week coming up there will be some rotation. But every week we drive each other to do what we want to do and that will be no different."