David Martindale insists James Penrice is more than capable of handling the step up to life at Heart of Midlothian ahead of the left-back’s move to Tynecastle Park in the summer.

The 25-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and Hearts have moved quickly to secure his signature, fending off interest from other Premiership sides and clubs down south to get the deal done.

Martindale is adamant that Penrice, who joined Livingston from Partick Thistle in 2021, will be able to hit ‘another level’ in the capital.

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“I can’t wait to get James Penrice back ready and playing for Livingston,” Martindale told the BBC. “I have got absolutely no qualms whatsoever about playing him.

“I think it’s a fantastic move for the lad. I sat James down three years ago and said, ‘Come to me, we’ll make you better, we’ll progress your career’, so when I found out Hearts were interested, I was delighted for him.

“James is more than capable of stepping up and dealing with it. I think James has got another level in him [beyond Hearts], I really do. Sometimes players can underestimate the size of the job at Tynecastle, when you put that shirt on in front of those fans, it’s a big place to play football. It takes big players.

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“I think it took Alan [Forrest] a wee while to settle but I think the staff and the fans can now see why Alan went to Hearts originally, he’s been brilliant for them. Robbie Neilson took him in originally and I think Naisy has been very good for him, he’s kicked on this season.

“Craig Halkett took to Hearts like a duck to water. He had a difficult start to life at Hearts but he’s had the captain’s band a few times.

“When I look at the players that have left Livingston to go to Hearts, it does nothing but bring a smile to my face. I genuinely mean that. I’m disappointed I’m losing someone of James’ ability but I’m absolutely delighted for him.”