Hearts have confirmed the signing of striker Craig Beattie until the end of the season.

The 28-year-old former Celtic and West Brom forward was a free agent following his release by Swansea last month.

Beattie could make his debut in Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Dundee United at Tynecastle.

Beattie trained with Hearts at the ages of 12 and 13 under John Murray, now director of football at Tynecastle, before signing schoolboy terms at Rangers, who later released him.

He made his professional breakthrough with Celtic before moving to West Brom in 2007 in an initial £1.25million deal. Loan spells with Preston, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United followed before Beattie joined Swansea in an £800,000 deal.

After helping them to promotion from the npower Championship, he found opportunities limited in the Barclays Premier League.

Despite Hearts' well-publicised problems - wages to players were delayed in October, November and December - Beattie had no hesitation in moving to Edinburgh following talks with Murray and manager Paulo Sergio.

"They've showed interest on a number of occasions and for whatever reason certain things didn't come off," said Beattie, who has seven Scotland caps, but none since March 2007.

"Even before the phone call came I had an inkling that possibly they would be interested again.

"Once the option came up it was an easy decision for me.

"As soon as the call came I was really excited. I'm just looking forward to the games ahead now.

"It was purely a football decision. I know how big the club is and I know the potential.

"I've come in here until the end of the season to hopefully lift the boys and kick on."

The move was a surprise in some quarters, given Hearts' financial state and the fact striker John Sutton was allowed to move to Australia A-League side Central Coast Mariners on loan.

Sergio insisted Sutton's move was to reduce the wage bill, but that an additional striker was necessary to support Stephen Elliott, with Gary Glen and Gordon Smith other options.

The manager said: "John went to save money. Now it's a different deal with Beattie.

"It was a free player and at this moment it's another solution to help the group.

"I trust Lockey (first-team coach Gary Locke) and John Murray - they know the player very well. I hope he can be happy here."

Sergio often deploys a lone striker, a position Beattie is happy to play.

"I've played as the central striker for the past four years," the striker said.

"I know at the minute there's a bit of competition. First and foremost I've got to get myself fit and get myself in the team.

"I'm sure, if and when that happens, I'll get goals."