Hearts should make extending Liam Boyce's contract at the club a matter of priority. 

That's the viewpoint of former Tynecastle forward Ryan Stevenson.

The Northern Irishman has returned to the team and has made a positive impact in the attacking areas.

His goal-bound shot was guided in by Lawrence Shankland on Saturday to give Steven Naismith's side another three points on the board. It was the club's third victory in a row.

Next up is a tough trip to Ayrshire to face Killie, who are formidable on home soil. However, Hearts did defeat Derek McInnes' side at Rugby Park in September in the League Cup quarter-final, so will have every confidence they can repeat the feat.

Stevenson is delighted to see Boyce back in amongst the starting XI.

"Suso Santana used to do my nut in trying to pinch goals off team-mates," Stevo wrote in his Daily Record column.

"The ball could travel five feet away from the wee man on its way into the net and he’d be claiming he got the final touch. He’d kick his granny for a goal and that was just in training. Not that it did him much good if you look at his scoring record across three years in Gorgie.

"But seeing Lawrence Shankland benefit from accidentally getting in the way of Liam Boyce’s goalbound effort to divert the winner past St Johnstone keeper Dimitar Mitov on Saturday put me in mind of wee Suso.

"Listen, the goal has to be given to Shankland and his fortune is actually the sign of a good striker at the top of his game. But I still felt for Boycey as the moment that mattered was all about his brilliant movement in the box. Losing his defender, getting himself in between the posts and then applying the – almost – finishing touch.

"It’s what he does best and it’s why he remains a key man for Hearts even if the goals aren’t flowing for him right now. He’s like me and not blessed with pace but that’s where your movement is vital. It was actually a brilliant goal. I loved watching how they moved it from one side to the other before working it into the box. I can guarantee that’s something they work on every day in training and the coaches will be delighted it’s come off.

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"I know the fans are split on Boyce this season but when he’s on it he can be the difference like on Saturday. And with his contract up in the summer I’d be making him a priority for a new deal. He’s had a bad injury and might be 32 but he’s looking sharp. If you put a ‘player cam’ on him for 90 minutes you’d see the selfless work he does for the team and to help Lawrence. He has the intelligence to drift into areas that will create room for his partner to get on the ball and score.

"Not just that but I bet you he is one of the players in that dressing room that is a role model for the youngsters coming through the academy.

"Guys like that are invaluable. I had a good chat with Andy Webster about the academy last week and who the youngsters look up to. The likes of Boyce, Stephen Kingsley, obviously Craig Gordon, they are so important to the young ones who will hopefully eventually take their place. Look, often the decision on a new contract comes down to money. But all being well, if it was up to me, the offer would be on the table for Boyce."