Hearts turn attention to Ian Cathro as Neilson departs

Ian Cathro is Hearts top choice for head coach
Ian Cathro is Hearts top choice for head coach
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Hearts will today turn their attention to luring Ian Cathro north from Newcastle United after Robbie Neilson and Stevie Crawford headed to MK Dons.

Cathro is the clear frontrunner to succeed Neilson as head coach and Tynecastle officials are expected to make an official approach to Newcastle by Monday at the latest. The 30-year-old Scot is keen to forge a career in management having previously worked as an assistant at Rio Ave in Portugal and Valencia in Spain.

He is currently assistant to Rafa Benitez at Newcastle but retains a close relationship with Hearts director of football Craig Levein from their time together at Dundee United.

Neilson and Crawford are will be appointed manager and assistant in Milton Keynes after saying their goodbyes at Riccarton yesterday. A statement released by Hearts last night read: “The club can confirm that we have agreed terms with Milton Keynes Dons FC in relation to head coach Robbie Neilson and assistant head coach Stevie Crawford.

“Ann Budge, the board of directors and everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club would like to sincerely thank Robbie and Stevie for the enormous part they have played in helping to re-establish the club in the upper echelons of Scottish football.

“The record-breaking 2014-15 Championship-winning season, which secured our promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking, will long live in the memory of Hearts supporters, as will the highly impressive third-place finish and the return to European football which was achieved the following season. They leave us in an enviable position, sitting second in the Premiership table with a healthy playing squad, rich with talent and promise. We wish them every success in their new challenge with Milton Keynes Dons FC.

“We will now begin the formal process of recruiting a new head coach and assistant head coach. A further statement confirming interim arrangements for our game against Ross County on Saturday, will be released tomorrow morning.”

Levein was due to address the media at 10am this morning and will oversee the first-team squad against Ross County tomorrow along with youth coaches Jon Daly and Andy Kirk.