Hearts set for talks as 12 stars near end of contract

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HEARTS directors are preparing to make some crucial decisions on 12 first-team players who are out of contract between now and next June.

Rudi Skacel and Janos Balogh become free agents in January when their current deals expire, whilst Marian Kello, Suso, Eggert Jonsson, Kevin Kyle, Stephen Elliott, Ryan Stevenson, David Obua, Calum Elliot, Gary Glen and Jamie MacDonald are all out of contract in June.

The club will allow some players’ contracts to expire in order to trim their squad, however others are seen as major components of manager Paulo Sergio’s first-team squad. They can expect discussions on new deals to commence soon.

In particular, having all three first-team goalkeepers approaching the end of their agreements is an issue the Tynecastle hierarchy will want to address quickly. Kello is seen as a prize asset by Hearts, with MacDonald reliable back-up and Balogh an experienced third choice.

All those whose deals finish next June are, of course, able to sign pre-contract agreements with other clubs come January. Hearts are keen to avoid any of their established players being lured elsewhere.

Meanwhile, MacDonald is eager to atone for Sunday’s loss to St Johnstone by beating Celtic this weekend. Although he believes mistakes must be eradicated first. “Obviously nobody goes out on a Saturday or Sunday and tries to make a mistake, but these things happen at times,” said the goalkeeper.

“Unfortunately, we seem to be having a few of these right now and it’s something we need to work on and smarten up over the next couple of weeks.

“Hopefully on Sunday we can rectify things and put in a good performance. It’s difficult when you play against Rangers or Celtic but we have them at Tynecastle and our home form is pretty good.”