STEVEN Naismith last night expressed doubt his former Everton team mate Phil Jagielka will join Celtic this summer and predicted the England centre half will remain in the Premier League down south.

Jagielka has been linked with a move to Parkhead this week after leaving Goodison Park, where he has played for the past 12 seasons, to replace Dedryck Boyata.

Naismith played with the 40-times capped defender during his time on Merseyside and believes his old team mate still has a great deal to offer at the highest level.

However, the Scotland forward, who revealed he is still in talks with Hearts about his own future, reckons the former Sheffield United man will want to remain in his homeland.

“I saw Jags in January when I went down during the winter break,” he said. “He’s a top player, he’s more of a footballing defender if you like. He maybe doesn’t look like that a lot of times in games but he is a very good footballer who could easily play in midfield.


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“As he’s got older he’s played less, but I think he’s still got loads of qualities. When I saw he was leaving Everton my first thought was where he’ll go. I can’t see him finishing because he has a lot to offer and loves football.

“Will that be in Scotland? I would be surprised if he came up here. He’s got more association with different clubs down south, like Sheffield United where he came through, and he has a family with kids who are going through school. So with all those thoughts to consider I’d be surprised if he comes to Scotland.”

Naismith added: “But I’m sure he’ll play on at a good level. He’s a very good pro and over the last year or year-and-a-half at Everton it has been tough for him because he was a mainstay and would have wanted to play all the time.

“But from talking to him and other boys at Everton he has had the mental strength to adapt to that. He’s the club captain and has to have a level of professionalism and he would carry that off easily.”

Meanwhile, Naismith, who is out of contract with Norwich City this summer, has revealed he is comfortable with his personal situation despite not reaching an agreement Hearts over a deal.


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"The main things are in place,” he said. “There has to be a bit of come and go in both directions - where I'm coming from and what Hearts can offer.

"It's not your straightforward contract. When you're younger it's about earning as much money at the highest level you can play.

“Now there are more factors and it's about making sure everybody is happy. There are a few things Hearts have that are non-negotiable and there are probably a few things which are non-negotiable from my side.

"It is relaxed. I'm comfortable at the moment that it will happen. I'm not actively looking at all different options at the moment. This is one I'm going to look to try and get done. At the moment, we're still getting there.”

Naismith added: “The things I'm asking for are a big commitment for them and they are working out what they want to do. Are they willing to take that gamble?

"Like all negotiations, they are trying to get the best deal for them and I'm trying to get the best deal for myself. Ann (Hearts owner Budge) is a proper businesswoman.


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“I won't go into things too much, but it's about making sure I'm covered in future with things I want to do when I finish playing. For the club, it's about making sure they aren't leaving themselves vulnerable to anything.

"At the moment I'm not actively looking to say to Hearts: 'I've got this club wanting me.' I'm comfortable and relaxed to make sure we get to that point. Hearts have been good for me over the last 18 months.

"In my head, I would happily continue on if it's all right, but I'm not daft enough to just say: 'Right, I'll sign.' With any negotiation, you make sure it's right.”