IT would be stretching it to suggest Hearts are a one-man team, but there is little doubt that Steven Naismith is the man who makes them tick. The stats bear it out.

Of the 10 games that the Scotland forward has spent on the sidelines through injury or suspension this season, Craig Levein’s men have won just two. With the 32-year-old in the team, they have won 18 of 29 in all competitions.

His goal against Motherwell on Sunday wasn’t enough to salvage anything from the trip to Fir Park, but again, he was the stand-out performer in the Hearts team. So, the revelation last week that Naismith was weighing up a possible move to the MLS would have sent a shiver up the spines of the Tynecastle support.

Such is his influence, the thought of life after Naismith will be one that no Hearts fan will want to contemplate, but as unpalatable as it may be, contemplate it they must. The man himself is certainly giving some serious thought to his future, and while Hearts have done all they can to convince him to stay, he admits that a move to the States is a tempting proposition at this stage of his career. Naismith – admittedly with a heavy heart - feels it may be now, or never.

“I’m not actively looking to find a move to there,” Naismith said. “It’s more that at this stage of my career I don’t think there’s going to be another opportunity to do it.

“It’s whether you want it or not rather than ‘this club is in for me and I want to go’. That’s the decision I’ve got to make really.

“I’d say it’s probably the toughest one I’ve had to make I my career. My Scotland ambitions definitely come into it as well. The gaffer will do all he can to put me off I suppose. There are guys like Johnny Russell who have continued.

“I’ll take my time to think about it because I’ve got the time to think about it. I don’t know what I want. I’m fortunate enough that I can sit and enjoy my football.

“Like most of the moves I’ve made in my career, one day I’ll wake up and think ‘that’s the right thing to do’ and I’ll pursue that.

“I’ve not given myself a deadline but I’m realistic that I can’t drag it out too much. But I’ll take as much time as I need.

“As a person and a player, I’m quite structured and I like to know what’s happening nest week and the week after so that obviously plays on my mind as well.

“When you are younger it’s about money and playing at the highest level. That’s 90 per cent of a young player’s decision. As you get older things change and it’s more a case of ‘do I fancy that?’ More comes into it.

“It’s clear that Hearts are doing all they can. They can’t do much more. The manager has spoken about life after football and stuff like that so that’s all there. But I just want to make sure I make the right decision.”

As hard as it may be for Hearts supporters to wrap their heads around their team with a Naismith-sized hole in it, for the forward, coming to terms with the finite nature of his playing career is difficult too. And that consideration is what is driving the temptation to up sticks in search of new experiences while he still can.

“Every older player I’ve played with has said ‘play as long as you can’,” he said.

“It’s a mad business that one day you’ll wake up and won’t be able to do it again. Simple as that. For me it’s quite daunting to think of it that way. But I know when I finish I’ll have options and will do something I’ll really enjoy.

“I’ve only been to the States on pre-season. It’s just the life-experience. You look at young players like (David) Bates going to Germany. Ryan Gauld going to Portugal. I really admire that.

“Back in the day I wish maybe I’d done that, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of my career and I do think ‘why would I not try it?’ That’s what I’m swaying with.

“The MLS is coming up as well. The family can watch it on TV as well which makes it easier for them.”