Hearts plan to renew several contracts within the next few weeks to keep highly-rated players at Tynecastle.
However, head coach Robbie Neilson stressed today that completing negotiations is difficult until he knows his budget for next season and which league his club will play in.
Jordan McGhee, Brad McKay, Adam Eckersley, Miguel Pallardo, Jason Holt, Gary Oliver and Scott Robinson are all out of contract this summer. Some of those will be given new deals over the next few weeks and months, although Neilson remains cautious about finances ahead of next season.
The head coach is refusing to take automatic promotion for granted despite Hearts sitting 15 points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship. Until the title is secured, talks on contracts will only take place with players regarded as an absolute priority. In that regard, McGhee will not be allowed to leave for free and is likely to be offered a new deal. Pallardo has impressed since arriving from Spain’s La Liga and is also expected to be offered a contract extension in time. Neilson is determined not to rush anything until budgets are definite.
“We’re in a situation just now where we aren’t guaranteed to go up, so we can’t really commit to a budget yet until we know exactly what it’s going to be,” he told the Evening News. “We’ve signed Prince Buaben up but, for the rest of them, it will be probably into January or after that once we know where we are.
“It’s definitely an issue we want to deal with, for ourselves and for the players concerned. They want to know what’s happening with their futures. We’ll do that but it’s still in the balance regarding whether we’re going to go up or not.”
Neilson urged those who see their long-term future at Tynecastle to show their desire every day in training. “Players have to try to keep playing well every week and keep training hard,” he added. “That’s what football’s about, working hard day today. It’s not about working hard just to get a contract then taking your foot off the gas.
“It can be difficult for players because everyone wants to play every week. If the team is doing well and guys in the side are doing well then it can be hard. It’s part of football and you have to deal with it. I’ve a big squad and only 11 guys can play on a Saturday. That’s part of modern football and, to be fair, the players have dealt with it well.”