Hearts are resigned to losing winger Sam Nicholson on freedom of contract this summer. Head coach Ian Cathro is already preparing to replace the 22-year-old, who has rejected a new deal.
Nicholson’s current agreement expires at the end of the season and he sees his future elsewhere. FIFA rules state Hearts will be due around £400,000 in compensation when he joins a new club.
Rangers are amongst those interested in signing the player, who has been with the Edinburgh club for ten years and is a graduate of the Riccarton youth academy.
Nicholson turned down an offer to sign a new contract before Christmas and Hearts have now accepted he will be leaving.
Asked if he is preparing for Nicholson to move on, Cathro told the Evening News: “I expect that to be the case. These are individuals’ decisions.
“For me, Sam is a young player with talent who has an opportunity. He’s still at a stage where he still needs to focus on his own development. There is still growth to take place there.
“Nothing is happening [with his contract], really. It is as it is. Sam is out of contract so he’s our player until the end date on that. From that point on, that’s that.
“He’s a young Scottish player with talent and, for that reason, we’d like to have all those players here. This is part of football, though – part of the business.
“Each player will make their own decisions. We are focused on the team improvement, irrespective of who goes or comes. We want to improve ourselves every time.”
On a more positive note, Cathro confirmed Hearts’ intent to re-sign centre-back Aaron Hughes – a story first revealed by the Evening News last month.
The 37-year-old Northern Ireland internationalist remains injured with a calf problem and won’t face Partick Thistle tomorrow. He is out of contract at the end of May but is currently discussing a 12-month extension.
“I’ve got no doubt at all that having Aaron in the team helps. It helps the team and it helps players around him,” said Cathro. “We miss his influence but these are things that happen over the course of a season.
“We are looking into keeping him for next season and the injury doesn’t have any bearing on that. It’s not an injury that’s going to cause a concern long term.
“It’s just about getting to the point where it’s fully recovered and once it’s dealt with properly there’s no threat of it causing him any issues in the longer term. We just need to manage it just now.”