Steven Naismith has said it is a "slow process" when it comes to contract negotiations with Heart of Midlothian stars.

The club remain in talks with players over new deals, including Lawrence Shankland and Beni Baningime. The former is out of contract in 18 months, while the latter is in the final six months of his deal at Tynecastle Park.

The Hearts head coach has been on record saying he doesn't want to lose either from his squad, while chief executive Andrew McKinlay provided an update on Shankland's situation on Thursday and revealed he hoped and believed the striker would remain at the club this month.

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Naismith is of the view that Hearts have a lot to offer the two players. 

"It’s a slow process," he told Hearts Standard. "They are at that point in their career where they have big decisions. We have a lot to offer and we hope they can see that and they can see the value in staying. We will do what we can for the likes of Beni, Shanks and that to stay because they are big parts of our squad."

Naismith also provided an update on potential departures from Tynecastle with both Andy Halliday and Connor Smith attracting attention.

"That option is there," he said regarding a possible exit. "Whether it happens or not, I’m not going to put any pressure on the players. It is more credit to the ones who haven’t been involved but have been part of the group, they’ve enhanced the group and made it better day to day.

"But I know what it is like. See if you are not playing it is hard, it’s really tough to keep motivated when you are not getting those minutes at the end of the week. Inevitably some might move on. If it is right for them and right for us, some might move on."

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Meanwhile, Naismith expressed the importance of the rest period for his players over the winter break. The team were given extra days off following an intense period of action before they returned with a focus on improving in the attacking third.

"That final third stuff, in and out of possession," he said after being asked what the key focus has been. "If we get better at that we’ll create more chances that will give us better scorelines hopefully.

"Also, the rest part. December was really tough on us. I think you could see that at the end of the performances. We did really well at Livi to get the result. That rest was really important. We didn’t go away on a camp, the boys had a rest, we worked at home for a bit and we’ve come in and had three hard days, two training days and a game. It’s been really good, we’ve seen the benefit of it.

Hearts defeated Kilmarnock in a bounce game on Monday with Kenneth Vargas and Adam Forrester getting on the scoresheet. Forrester was one of five of the academy players who featured in the match.

"They all did really well," he said. "They have all enhanced where they were before it. It’s the consistency part, they've all done really well. It’s building that trust. We are telling them they have got that opportunity and they all came through that game really well."