Hearts contract offer to Jamie Walker ‘still on table’

Jamie Walker turned down a new contract with Hearts
Jamie Walker turned down a new contract with Hearts
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Hearts’ contract offer to Jamie Walker will remain on the table should the winger decide to pledge his future to the club.

Walker rejected the new deal, which would have made him Hearts’ highest paid player earlier this year. Club officials have subsequently rejected bids from Rangers worth up to £600,000 for his services.

The 24-year-old’s current contract expires next summer and head coach Ian Cathro remains hopeful of convincing him to stay at Tynecastle beyond that point.

He told the Evening News that the contract offer will remain open and will not be withdrawn. “It’s never off the table. We leave it as an open thing,” said Cathro. “We’re still inside the transfer window and there are a lot of things going on.

“We’re not stressed and neither is Jamie. He’s comfortable and he’s training well. Things are fine and it’s other people’s noise that makes you think otherwise.

“We want our best players to be at the club, we want them to be comfortable and relaxed about everything so that their focus can be on football.”

Cathro confirmed he is in the market for a new goalkeeper, a creative midfielder and possibly another forward.

“It [goalkeeper] is an area we are looking at, also in midfield, and maybe in the front areas,” he said.

“While I would say we are making progress on a number of things, I would say that it will be further down the line that we have any real news.”

Midfielder Arnaud Djoum returned from holiday on Monday having been given time off following international duty with Cameroon. He will not feature against East Fife tomorrow in the Betfred League Cup but Cathro stressed the player is happy at Hearts despite speculation on his future.

“He is content here. Arnaud has had to live through quite a lot of big experiences and you can’t undervalue the impact that has,” continued the head coach.

“He is a player who can progress and play at a higher level. What he has to do to be ready for that is be focused and concentrated here, which he is, and be ready to deliver big performances for this club.”

Cathro also explained his delight at seeing defender John Souttar back in action after six months out. He played 45 minutes for Hearts Under-20s in a friendly on Tuesday night to step up his recovery from a ruptured Achilles.

“John is back in full training and has some minutes in a practice game and with the under-20s,” said Cathro.

“He is happy to be back involved, very much so. Most young players have hunger anyway but he has been starved of the game and he comes back in with a wee bit more of that than normal.”