Hearts boss Ian Cathro is keen to draw a line under recent speculation surrounding Jamie Walker and simply get the winger back playing.
Director of football Craig Levein revealed last month that Walker had rejected the offer of a new contract at Tynecastle. This prompted interest from Ladbrokes Premiership rivals Rangers, who have had two bids – for around £500,000 and £600,000 respectively – rejected for the 24-year-old.
With Hearts in Dublin preparing for tonight’s pre-season friendly against St Patrick’s Athletic, Cathro is keen to make sure Walker is ready to reproduce the sort of form that saw him lead the club’s scoring charts with 15 goals last term.
“I would hope we can draw a line under it,” said the Hearts head coach. “Partly for us, partly for Jamie. It can be difficult. It ended up being a lot of stress coming from a number of directions around him.
“My priority was to be able to support him and make sure he felt comfortable here – which he does. He is part of the group and training as normal. There is no situation.”
Cathro also gave assurances that any interest in Walker will have no bearing on how much he plays.
“There is no problem going forward,” he said. “Our best players will play. Those players who are working hard, focused and training well will play. Simple. Plain and simple. Jamie Walker, focused, training well and working hard, playing in our team is a valuable thing.
“It will be important to get some minutes in Jamie. He had a bit of an awkward knock and lost a couple of days when the guys were stepping up their condition so we had to be careful. When you look at that, please don’t think ‘he is playing less because something is going on’. It’s not. He’ll start to get minutes again and we can build him up.”