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Lithuanian can be the saviour of Hearts, says Elliot

IF one good turn does indeed deserve another, then the Hearts support's reward for their unwavering financial backing of their stricken club could well arrive in the form of a freescoring Lithuanian striker.

Arturas Rimkevicius will arrive in Edinburgh in the coming days to train with Hearts ahead of a potential move
Arturas Rimkevicius will arrive in Edinburgh in the coming days to train with Hearts ahead of a potential move

Arturas Rimkevicius is his name and, barring an extension of Hearts' transfer embargo beyond December 23, the player will arrive at Tynecastle in the next week or so to start training with a view to signing at the start of next month.

In the recently-concluded A Lyga season in his homeland, the 29 year-old scored 35 goals for a team that finished fifth. Little wonder, then, that the Hearts supporters had an extra spring in their step yesterday at the prospect of Rimkevicius wearing maroon in the second half of the season.

Most of Hearts' problems this season have related to off-the-field matters but their most glaring deficiency on the pitch has been a lack of goals. Manager John McGlynn has utilised John Sutton, Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson in attack with limited success, the team registering less than a goal a game in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. Rimkevicius, who had a trial with Hearts seven years ago, believes he could be the answer to that problem, even if his eye is already on a subsequent move to England.

"Every footballer dreams of playing at the highest level and I am no exception," he said. "Hearts doesn't represent the very summit in football but it would be another step towards the top. Going from Lithuania direct to England is almost impossible but going there from Scotland to England should be much easier. If I can continue to score goals I think I can catch the eye of even bigger clubs. I realise the coaches at Hearts will want me to make an immediate impact and I don't expect to have to wait 10 games for my first goal."

Hearts have been down this road before with Lithuanian strikers with mixed results. Ricardas Beniusis arrived at Tynecastle on a season-long loan from FBK Kaunas with a stellar reputation but struggled to make any kind of impact. Andrius Velicka was the opposite, scoring a raft of goals to earn himself a £1m move to Viking in Norway and then on to Rangers.

Rimkevicius, unsurprisingly, believes he is more like the latter player than the former and it is a view shared by Calum Elliot. The former Hearts striker spent last season with Zalgiris Vilnius in the Lithuanian league and thinks Rimkevicius would be an excellent addition if a deal could be done.

"I saw quite a lot of him and he always seemed to be scoring," Elliot told Herald Sport. "He would relish it if he came over to Scotland so hopefully Hearts can get him signed up. I don't think he'd have a problem fitting in. His team finished fifth in the season just finished and I'd say the top five or six clubs are on a par with teams in the SPL.

"He reminds me quite a bit of Andrius Velicka; he has a similar build and way of playing. Hearts have struggled a bit for goals so if they could sign Arturas then I think he'd make a real difference."

Rimkevicius, a free agent, has also had the rare privilege of a recent private audience with Vladimir Romanov. The striker met the Hearts owner to discuss the stability of the club in light of their well-publicised financial problems and was appeased by what he heard. "I went to meet Vladimir Romanov and asked him bluntly about the situation," he added. "His answer was simple; the stories of how bad Hearts are have been told over the years. He said the club has always been and always will be, and everything will be fine with it. He reassured me and that is enough for me."

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