Jorge Grant found himself at a crossroads this summer. It’s no secret that the 28-year-old, brought to Tynecastle Park by Robbie Neilson the previous year, has struggled to nail down a place in the starting XI since first arriving in the capital and he has been tried out in various positions in that time.

Over the past year or so, Grant has found himself playing as a deep-lying midfielder, a wing-back, a wide forward and as a No.10, but rarely has he been given a sustained run in the team. So much so,  he even considered leaving Gorgie last month in search of pastures new and regular game time.

“I was close to leaving towards the end of the window,” Grant said after Hearts’ 2-1 win over Kilmarnock on Tuesday night. “It’s one of those things - I want to play football. That’s why I was looking elsewhere. Things don’t happen sometimes and that might work in my favour now with getting a game. Hopefully I can get a run of games as well.”

The midfielder has certainly not done his chances of further inclusion any harm. On a night where those on the fringes of the starting line-up, such as Toby Sibbick and Alan Forrest, were given an opportunity to provide Steven Naismith with some food for thought, it was Grant who perhaps caught the eye more than any other.

READ MORE: Jorge Grant on almost leaving, Kilmarnock impact and Hearts future - Full Q&A

Playing in his preferred No.10 role, the Englishman quickly made his presence felt against Derek McInnes’ team. Grant dovetailed nicely with Lawrence Shankland in particular but it was his ability to bridge the midfield and the attack that was proving to be a thorn in Killie’s side. A full range of passing was on display alongside a tireless work ethic and while not everything he attempted came off, he made himself a nuisance.

His goal was superbly taken. Grant broke the deadlock as the clock approached half-time, expertly caressing the ball into the bottom-right corner from Shankland’s inviting lay-off to break the deadlock at Rugby Park. It was the icing on the cake for what would have been an impressive display even if he hadn’t found the net, and who knows if Hearts would have progressed to the semi-finals without his intervention.

Grant knew first-team opportunities would be hard to come by this season following some honest discussions with Naismith in the summer. Chances to make an impression and to change his manager’s mind would be few and far between, and he would have to seize them once they arrived. On Tuesday night, he did just that.

“Naisy has been totally honest with me from day dot,” Grant explained. “He said that my chances will be limited so I knew that, when I get the opportunity, I need to perform and I feel like I did all right on Tuesday.

“Of course [I think I can change the manager’s mind]. I feel like I know my own abilities and I feel I can help the team. It's down to me proving that to him, then getting the opportunity, then doing it on the pitch.”

Grant demonstrated against Kilmarnock that he might just have a future at Hearts after all. Coming in for Liam Boyce in the No.10 role, he offered more dynamism in midfield than the Northern Irishman does. There are concerns amongst some supporters that Boyce and Shankland are too similar to be an effective pairing in attack, and that an alternative option is required. On Tuesday night’s evidence, Grant can be just that – but he will require a run in the team in his preferred position to get fully up to speed.

“I think that’s where I can bring my best football,” Grant reasoned. “Tuesday night was a bit different because there were a lot of long balls and winning second balls. I was trying to find those pockets for myself to help out the team and, obviously, get a goal. There were moments when I probably could have done better in the final third but that comes with playing games.

Last season I was a bit in and out. I didn’t really get a clear run of games. That's where I’ve got to do well - come in, score goals when I can, and I know I’ve got that in my locker. It’s about doing that on a more consistent basis.”

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Injuries to the likes of Barrie McKay, Yutaro Oda and Kyosuke Tagawa have left Naismith a little short of options in attack at times this season – just see the 1-0 defeat away to St Mirren at the weekend, where the team lined up without a right winger – and having an alternative to Boyce is crucial. The Northern Irishman played an instrumental role in the victory over Killie by teeing up Alex Lowry for the winning goal after coming off the bench, but he is also recovering from a serious injury. He cannot play every game, and there have been times where he and Shankland have been ineffective as a pairing.

Boyce will likely remain Naismith’s first pick over the course of the campaign, but Grant has certainly played himself into contention and could well get the nod once again for Saturday’s trip to Ross County. He couldn’t have done much more against Kilmarnock, and it was hard not to notice the team’s added fluency in the final third with the Englishman in the side.

For a player that thought he would have to leave Tynecastle not so long ago in order to get a game, Grant might just get the opportunity that he craves in the coming weeks. The midfielder staked his claim emphatically in the League Cup quarter-final by offering a timely reminder of what he can bring to the table, and won over a fair few fans with his display. Ultimately, Grant only has to convince Naismith: and he might just have done it.