HEARTS are poised to cut short striker Tony Watt’s loan agreement and let him return to Charlton Athletic, the Evening News has learned.
The 22-year-old was left out of the 18-man squad for last night’s match against Aberdeen and is preparing to head back to his parent club in England. He has played 17 times and scored once since arriving at Tynecastle on a season-long loan deal in July. However, he hasn’t started a match for almost two months and is frustrated by the lack of game time. His departure will clear space in Hearts’ squad, with head coach Ian Cathro hoping to sign two or potentially three new players during the January transfer window. A striker is amongst his priorities, whilst he would also like a defender and a wide player. Irish forward Conor Sammon is interesting Dundee United but he has stated his desire to stay at Tynecastle and fight for a first-team place. “The window brings an opportunity for us to assess what we can do. It’s a difficult window so we’re not obsessed about it. I think there will be opportunities to improve what we have available,” said Cathro.
“I don’t think we need to do a lot. It’s difficult to do a lot and do it well in January. There tends to only be a certain situation players are in which involves them moving in this window. We won’t be obsessed with doing a lot of things but making some improvements will be possible, I think. We need to see and analyse that well.”
Callum Paterson’s long-term knee injury removes the possibility of any transfer offer for him in January. “That’s a factor,” admitted Cathro. “Everybody is aware there’s been interest in Callum for a period of time. It would be foolish of us to not anticipate an offer for him. That informs some of the work we’re doing. The priority with Callum is to support him, though.”
Cathro was frustrated by last night’s performance as Jonny Hayes’ goal gave Aberdeen a 1-0 victory at Tynecastle – leaving Hearts six points behind the third-placed Pittodrie club in the Premiership.
“We probably lost the initial battle as it became closer to the type of game Aberdeen preferred,” he said. “We had to stay strong and fight through that. The players deserve credit for getting to half-time at 0-0.
“Was it a deserved 0-0? I think that’s questionable. It involved people fighting, scrapping and staying together and staying strong. That’s a positive. We were stronger in the second half after making some adjustments.
“We had opportunities to attack a little bit quicker but we didn’t do that enough to create the chances we needed. Yes, we made some mistakes defending, which we need to continually improve. As a result of those things, we lost the game.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes praised his team for nullifying Hearts’ threat as he reflected on a deserved victory. “When you come to Tynecastle, it’s important to stop their better players having an influence on the game, and for the majority of the game I thought we did that,” he said.
“We were certainly the team asking more questions but we were a bit wasteful. I wasn’t worried that we hadn’t taken our chances but when you’re the dominant team, it’s important to strike first.
“Thankfully we managed to do that. We showed good experience to handle the occasion well and when you hear the Hearts fans boo at half-time that’s one part of the job done. When the goal came, it was no more than we deserved. The players deserve real credit.”