"To be given faith and be told where they want me to improve means they see something in me and it is about putting in the work to make it happen."

In a previous article with Hearts Standard, Cammy Devlin spoke about his experience of playing under Steven Naismith, and his new role under the Heart of Midlothian head coach. The Australia internationalist spent three months on the sidelines earlier this season after picking up an injury in true Devlin fashion, tenaciously breaking up a counter-attack and setting Hearts off on their own foray forward.

While out injured, Devlin attended games not only to support his team, but to learn from his fellow midfielders. The management team have been vocal about their support for the 25-year-old and have a clear vision of how they see him playing.

It’s one thing to talk the talk, but has Naismith followed through on Devlin’s development? Let’s review the midfielder's last two seasons in maroon and see exactly how he has improved under the guidance of the first-time manager. We’ll do this by comparing his percentiles against all other central midfielders with over 600 minutes in the league.

One part of Devlin’s game that even his harshest critic couldn’t fault would be his work off the ball. His pitbull-like tenacity is a joy to watch, as is his refusal to give his opposite number with a moment's peace. Some fans wouldn’t expect or even think it possible for Devlin to improve on the last couple of seasons off the ball work, but alas, it is possible!

READ MORE: Kye Rowles, Cammy Devlin and the new weapon in Hearts' attacking arsenal

In all but four metrics we see Devlin either improve or remain the same as last season. The dark green on these graphs highlight metrics in which Devlin is in the top 20 per cent in comparison to all central midfielders in the Premiership. Increasing from five metrics in the exceptional category in 22/23 to nine in 23/24 is a brilliant improvement. Most notable improvements are seen in his all-round and defensive duels, both the increase in frequency and win percentage in these metrics.

In possession Devlin isn’t as much of a standout, but still shows up strongly. I’ve split his possession data into two sections: quantity and efficiency. Firstly, we look at how often he is involved in possession.

We see an increase of 37 passes per game to 42, which also includes a significant change in the type of passes. We see fewer backward and lateral passes, but an increase from 11 to 14 forward passes per game. On top of this, we also see a significant increase in progressive passes and deep completions, a metric which highlights non-cross passes that are played within 20 meters of the opponent's goal. All in all, he’s getting more involved in passes that push Hearts forward as opposed to simply retaining possession.

With an increase in more difficult passes, how does the Aussie’s success rate continue to stack up against his peers? Now these graphs are one place Jambos will hope to see an abundance of green, and Devlin doesn't disappoint. He rates in the top 15 per cent for accurate passes, and we can see increases in his passing efficiency in all types of passes.

Impressively, we also see huge increases in more difficult passes like long passes and through passes. We saw in our previous graph that he is dribbling at a similar rate as last season and in the current graph we see an increase in successful dribbles, rising from a 62 per cent success rate to 68 per cent. This data puts aside any notion of a player who isn’t competent on the ball, and gives his off-the-ball stats a run for their money.

READ MORE: Anatomy of a goal: Why Cammy Devlin strike was one of Hearts' best this season

Devlin stated that Naismith doesn’t just want him breaking up play and starting attacks but wants him to support and be creative in the final third. A Colin Cameron or Paul Hartley mould of a midfielder is someone that Jambos have been screaming out for since, well, Paul Hartley!

In last week’s game at Rugby Park, we probably saw the most forward-thinking Devlin that we’ve seen in his time in maroon, but has that been something that’s been consistently improving all season?

The data for his assists and xA are slightly disappointing this season, but we see an improvement on several other metrics. His shooting frequency is slightly lower, but his accuracy has increased significantly. We see him passing the ball into the final third much more regularly, while maintaining a high success rate and seeing a huge improvement in his accuracy with smart passes and when passing the ball into the penalty area. Pair this information with his increase in touches in the box and we get the picture that even though Devlin maybe hasn’t got an assist this year, he is contributing a lot more in the final third.

So there it is. The data backs up what I think you see when you watch the Sydney man playing on a weekly basis. We have a pretty complete midfielder who’s been improving year on year during his time in the capital.

READ MORE: Why Cammy Devlin can't help but dream of a European tour with Hearts

While maybe not contributing in the final third as much as we were used to with Cameron or Hartley, and not being known to play the types of world-class pass we see from Barrie McKay, he’s doing the gritty work exceptionally well and shows high levels of quality across the majority of the other parts of his game.

The leadership qualities we see when he’s on the pitch also don’t get spoken about too often, constantly talking and commanding his team-mates while leading by example with the effort shown. Devlin was mentioned by name by Callum Sandilands when accepting his Hearts B Player of the Year award as a player who has been a real help with his transition to first-team football. If we are lucky enough to see Devlin stay with us for another few years, I could see him picking up the armband on more than a couple of occasions.