Hearts set their sights on new deal for Stevenson

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HEARTS have opened negotiations with Ryan Stevenson over a potential contract extension for the in-form former Ayr United player.

The 28-year-old is one of a dozen players out of contract at the end of the season, but, given his fine form since being converted from midfielder to striker by Jim Jefferies at the start of the year, he looks set to be rewarded with a new deal.

After a promising end to last season, Stevenson has kicked on this term under Paulo Sergio and is now considered Hearts’ first-choice central striker ahead of natural forwards such as John Sutton and Stephen Elliott.

Having now found his feet after being plucked from the Second Division as Jefferies’ first signing in January last years, his 11 goals over the past 13 months make him arguably Hearts’ most prolific forward since Andrius Velicka. As a result, it’s little surprise that Hearts are open to the notion of retaining his services.

“There have been discussions,” Stevenson confirmed to the Evening News. “The club have spoken to my agent. These things always take a while to sort out, but if I keep playing well, the contract situation will take care of itself. I’ve always said I’m more than happy at Hearts. I feel as though I’m getting settled in and I’d love to stay. I’m just focusing on the next game, so my agent will take care of the other stuff. That’s what he’s there for.”

Meanwhile, influential Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic is struggling with a virus and is a major doubt for tomorrow’s SPL clash with Hearts at Tynecastle.