This week Heart of Midlothian have six players on Scotland international duty across three age groups.

Goalkeeping duo Craig Gordon and Zander Clark, plus Lawrence Shankland, are with the national team for fixtures against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland. Aidan Denholm and Lewis Neilson will be looking to add to caps won with the Scotland Under-21s when they face Kazakhstan in Euro qualification. Then there is Macaulay Tait linking up with the Scotland Under-19s for the first time. Billy Stark's side will face three matches in the UEFA EURO 2024 Elite Round qualifier.

Earlier this year, Hearts trio Bobby McLuckie, James Wilson and Rocco Friel were in an Under-19 squad.

READ MORE: How Steven Naismith wants Hearts to get better at producing academy talent

To Naismith, the likes of Denholm, Tait and Wilson pushing into squads demonstrates the development and progression of those individuals. It is something he wants to become a regular occurrence for the club's youngsters. It is also a step forward to, in the long term, Hearts possessing a "thriving academy" and being viewed by the country's best prospects as the place to develop.

"The longer we continue to be able to give younger players an opportunity and they take it and get in the first team," Naismith told Hearts Standard. "At the start of the season, we had Lewis Neilson as the only player in the Scotland squads and now we have Lewis, Denholm and Macaulay. James Wilson has now started pushing into the 19s.

"That shows you development but if we can build that and that becomes something that people relate to Hearts you are not only going to have a thriving academy and guys coming through [but] some of the best prospects will want to be at your club because they understand the opportunities they are going to get."

The pathway for the club's younger stars sits within wider squad development and recruitment. Naismith explained Hearts "try to work a year ahead" with squad planning. The ideal scenario is the squad works like a conveyor belt with not only signings being able to replace players who may move on, but also the young talent the club have pinpointed as ready for first-team make that step up.

READ MORE: Hearts, Premiership's youngest team and the four squad categories

"Players' contracts run down, there needs to be decisions made on them, the right time to move them on or if they are not renewing or somebody gets an unbelievable offer," he said. "From a business point of view that makes sense. You need to do it, something might happen that you have not foreseen happening then you need to make sure you are reactive and have the knowledge of where you go with that. For all the younger potential ones that has got to be the pathway."

He added: "Every club in Scotland is a club that can’t turn down transfers at the right number - that is effectively the business model for every club in the country. It is about being sensible, about having the research and future proofing there and making the decisions of when is the right time to move a player on, promote a young player or renew a player’s contract."