Hearts manager Craig Levein has confirmed that Steven Naismith will need knee surgery – but admitted that he was hopeful the veteran would return before the end of the season.

Naismith limped out of the recent defeat by Celtic and faces going under the knife for the second time this season.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Craig Levein, Manager of Hearts looks on prior to the Scottish Cup 5th Round match between Heart of Midlothian and Auchinleck Talbot at Tynecastle Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Levein hopes the Scotland striker can recover “really quickly” like last time and put a timeline of “eight to ten weeks” on his return.

“He goes for an op on Monday,” Levein told the Edinburgh Evening News.

20th January 2019, Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh, Scotland; Scottish Cup football fourth round, Heart of Midlothian versus Livingston; Liam Kelly of Livingston makes a save from Steven Naismith of Hearts header

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“It’s unfortunate but it is what it is. I think he’s getting a little bit shaved off his cartilage again so what was it last time, eight to ten weeks or something like that.

“I hope (he’s back before the end of the season). He came back really quickly last time so I’m hopeful it’ll be the same again.”

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 28: Steven Naismith of Heart of Midlothian F.C. receives medical treatment during the Betfred Scottish League Cup Semi Final between Heart of Midlothian FC and Celtic FC on October 28, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Both Naismith’s loan deal and his Norwich City contract come to an end this summer and the Jambos have offered him a permanent deal to stay.

The veteran has been vital for Craig Levein’s side and his previous spell on the sidelines coincided with Hearts’ worst run of form all season.

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