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Aberdeen head Ipswich Town in the race for Liam Boyce

Scottish Premiership


Liam Boyce is likely to stay in Scotland if he leaves Hearts

Liam Boyce is likely to stay in Scotland if he leaves Hearts

Liam Boyce is likely to stay in Scotland if he leaves Hearts

Aberdeen are the frontrunners to sign Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce for next season, but they face stern competition from Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town for his signature.

The Dons have pinpointed the Hearts forward as the man to lead their attack next season, with reports in Scotland suggesting manager Jim Goodwin rates Boyce extremely highly.

However, Ipswich also believe the former Cliftonville man could be the missing piece to lead them back into the Championship after his exploits with Burton Albion.

Boyce was prolific in his time in League One, scoring 31 goals in 94 games for Burton, and would have a familiar face to work with at Portman Road in fellow Northern Irishman and former Manchester United assistant McKenna.

However, it appears staying in Scotland is Boyce’s preference, with his family settled there after spending the last two years in Edinburgh with Hearts, while he also had a stay with Ross County from 2014 to 2017.

The 31-year-old has been even better for Hearts than he was at Burton, scoring 34 goals in 78 games, and would be a quality addition to an Aberdeen side that only just avoided relegation from the Premiership.

The Belfast man played a key role in Hearts’ run to the Scottish Cup final last season, even though they lost 2-0 in extra-time to Rangers in the final, but he was increasingly played in a deeper role behind on-loan Ellis Simms by manager Robbie Neilson as the season went on.

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Boyce never voiced any frustration with that strategy, but it may be that he wishes to return to the frontline striker role that Aberdeen — or potentially Ipswich — would be willing to offer him, while Neilson appears keen on offering a deal to former Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland, who is currently with Belgian side Beerschot.

Ex-Werder Bremen forward Boyce has currently made himself unavailable for international duty, alongside Hearts team-mate Michael Smith, but national boss Ian Baraclough has insisted the door is still open to the pair.

Reports in Scotland suggest that if their bid for Boyce is unsuccessful then Aberdeen will instead turn their focus on bringing Odds BK forward Tobias Lauritsen to Pittodrie.

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