Prince Buaben insists he cannot take a place in the Hearts team for granted after signing with the club for the Scottish Championship campaign.
The former Dundee United, Watford and Partick Thistle player is re-united with his Tannadice buddy Morgaro Gomis in the capital but the 26-year-old believes both of them face a hard fight for starting places.
Buaben, speaking ahead of Saturday’s Petrofac Training Cup first round tie with Annan, is ready for the battle with midfield teammates Scott Robinson, Jason Holt and Angus Beith though.
He said: “Holty and Scott are really talented young guys we have Goose [Angus Beith] as well. Really good players.
“It’s not going to be easy for me or Morgaro. In training I have to give 100% every day – you can never relax and think you’ve got your shirt already.”
On his reunion with Gomis, the Ghanaian said that friendship was the key to their Scottish Cup-winning partnership – something he is trying to instil in his new Hearts colleagues.
Buaben said: “I see [Morgaro] as a brother. We played together for four years and we connected really well.
“I’m used to Morgaro because I’ve played with him for a long time but I am trying to get to used to Scott and Holt more.
“I’m trying to tell them to get close to each other, like me and Morgaro so that we always have a midfielder partner who you understand.
“I hope we can all get close to each other, even off the field.”
Buaben admits he was sold on coming to Hearts by the club’s director of football Craig Levein – the man who first brought him to Scotland for Dundee United from the youth academy at Ajax.
But he says that biggest thing that has impressed him since joining is the training ground methods of head coach Robbie Neilson.
Buaben said: “On the training field he concentrates and passing and positioning on the field and that’s what I was used to at the academy at Ajax.
“He has a mind to play the ball on the ground in the Barcelona style, which is good for any footballer.
“For me to come here and work with a gaffer like that makes me really happy – it makes me smile to be playing football like that.”