Things haven’t gone according to plan for Newcastle United loanee Garang Kuol on his Scottish adventure playing for Hearts of Midlothian but interim manager Steven Naismith has seen enough to know there’s player there.

Garang Kuol was snapped up by Newcastle in September last year as the 18-year-old Australian broke into the senior international side after impressing for Central Coast Mariners. The transfer officially went through at the turn of the year and the youngster was loaned out to Hearts in the Scottish Premiership to continue his development.

Unfortunately the move hasn’t worked out for him so far. He’s yet to score for the Edinburgh club and has quite often failed to get onto the pitch at all. Hearts themselves are having an awful season and recently sacked manager Robbie Nielsen leaving Steven Naismith in charge.

Hearts interim boss has praised Kuol’s calm head

Naismith has spoken to The Athletic about Kuol and he was highly complimentary of the young forward saying: “He has great pace, which is a big advantage, but also a real calmness.

“When he gets the ball in that final third he’s happy to control it, he’s not in a rush to shoot, he’s happy to get it under control, and then manipulate the ball and get a shot off.”

Australia v Ecuador: Socceroos "Welcome Home Series"
Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

That calmness to bring the ball under his spell instead of lashing off a shot was what attracted Newcastle to Kuol. An old head on young shoulders type of situation. Of course, Dan Ashworth was aware that he’s still raw and therefore not ready to jump straight into the Newcastle first-team.

An immediate loan move was always on the cards for Kuol when he came to Newcastle. Initially because there was a fear he’d not meet the criteria for a UK work permit, but his appearances for Australia in the World Cup put him over the threshold.

That meant Kuol was able to be loaned to a club closer to home rather than sending him off to Europe.

A return to Australia came at the right time for Kuol

After a tough start to life at Hearts, Kuol was able to go back to Australia to link up with the national team in a couple of friendlies against Ecuador. During that break Kuol bagged his first goal for his country and it was thought that the break did him the world of good.

Kuol still hasn’t made an appearance for Hearts since early March despite being on the bench every game since, and Steven Naismith has pinpointed a couple of things Kuol needs to work on which could help him get more minutes on the pitch: “Being so young, the reaction when he loses the ball, maybe his positioning when out of possession, these are the things that we need to improve.”

Newcastle haven’t been too happy with how the loan situation at Hearts has worked out, but still plan to loan Kuol out again next season, but the destination isn’t clear yet.

I think another loan is the best option for Kuol. He’s not had enough game time to get a real flavour of playing the British game. Maybe a loan to a top-end Championship side would be a better move for him to get to adapt to life in England.

It’s clear he’s not ready for the Premier League just yet, but given Naismith’s comments, there will come a time when he will be a quality player for Newcastle.

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