Lembikisa heads for Hearts

Dexter Lembikisa will spend the remainder of the 2023/24 campaign on loan at Scottish Premiership side Hearts, subject to international clearance, after being recalled from his spell at Rotherham United.

The 20-year-old made 27 appearances in all competitions for the Millers, featuring in all but one of their 26 Championship fixtures.

In his first loan away from Molineux, Lembikisa established himself as a regular in the second tier of English football and scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 victory over Norwich City in September.

The defender is also a full international for Jamaica and helped his country qualify for this year’s Copa America and Concacaf Nations League finals for the first time. Now, he will head north of the border to link up with Steven Naismith’s Hearts who sit third in the Scottish Premiership, only behind Celtic and Rangers.

Pathways manager Steve Davis said: “The demands of being down the bottom and fighting to stay in the league isn’t easy for someone who is an experienced and seasoned pro, nevermind someone who is on their first loan. I’ve watched Dexter play a lot and he’s really knuckled down well, settled in well and been a regular addition. We’re really pleased that he’s played that many games and it’s been a terrific spell at Rotherham for him.

“Hearts are a team who are going really well in the Scottish Premiership. They play with confidence to a full house and hopefully Dexter can have more of the ball where he can show a high percentage of what he does at the top end of the pitch. He’s very capable in that area of the pitch but hasn’t been able to show it during the first half of the season.

“His defending has improved with the amount he’s had to do but we’d just like to see an all-round performance now, an all-round game on a consistent basis. Hopefully he can do that at Hearts.”

Davis is hoping Lembikisa can thrive in a team who enjoy more possession of the ball, with the move into the Tynecastle environment set to offer a different challenge for the youngster.

“We’re always thinking of what the player needs in that hostile environment where you’re playing for points, you’re trying to get out of the situation and he’s had to work very hard defensively to cope with some of the best wingers in that league and also wingers who have played in the Premier League.

“It’s time now to hopefully see something different from him and we know what he can produce in the final third. He scored a great goal in the Norwich victory being around the edge of the box and coming onto something that was cleared, so we want to see more of that success. That will round off the player we think he can be.”

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