Conor Sammon admits he is likely to leave Hearts in order to get the game time he craves.
The striker was signed by Robbie Neilson on a three-year deal last summer but was loaned to Kilmarnock in January after an underwhelming start to his Tynecastle career.
Sammon has returned to his parent club for pre-season training and came off the substitutes’ bench in Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win away to Livingston. After seeing Hearts sign two target men in the shape of Cole Stockton and particularly the much-hyped Kyle Lafferty in recent weeks, the 30-year-old Irishman concedes he has little chance of starting regularly in Ian Cathro’s team.
“I would think the arrival of Kyle makes it less likely that I’ll stay at Hearts,” said Sammon. “He’s obviously a centre-forward so I’m guessing that would limit my opportunities here. I think there’s a good chance I will need to look elsewhere to get that run of games that I’m looking for. At my stage, I don’t want to be playing second, third or fourth fiddle to anyone.”
Sammon is keen to remain in Scotland but is braced for the possibility that it could take several weeks for his future to become clear. Kilmarnock and Motherwell have been touted as potential destinations, while Dundee United were close to taking him on loan in January.
“I’m not sure what the future really holds for me,” he said. “I’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next couple of weeks or the next month because I’m sure there are still a lot of transfers to come in and stuff like that. I’m at a stage where I want to play games so whether I’ll get that opportunity at Hearts, at this moment in time I don’t really know. I’ll have to just keeping working hard and see what happens. I’m more than happy in Scotland, I feel settled here. My wife is from Scotland and I see my future up here.”
After scoring just two goals in the first half of the season and coming under fire from sections of the Hearts support, Sammon rediscovered his mojo at Rugby Park, where he produced a string of impressive displays and chipped in with five goals in 15 appearances.
“I went on loan to Kilmarnock and it was brilliant for me – very enjoyable,” he said. “You want to be testing yourself week in, week out so it’s very frustrating when you’re on the fringes of things. Time will tell where I end up, whether it’s at Hearts or whether I have to go elsewhere to get the game time I need.”
Cathro was coy on Sammon’s future. “We’ve had some conversations, but naturally they are private,” said the head coach.
While Sammon looks destined for the exit, it remains to be seen how things will pan out for centre-back Jordan McGhee, who has returned to Hearts after a season on loan with Middlesbrough. The Scotland Under-21 captain is contracted to the Tynecastle club until January and would be open to staying if it is indicated that there is a greater chance of game time under Cathro than there was under his predecessor Neilson.
McGhee played the majority of Saturday’s match and the head coach will continue assessing the 20-year-old at Hearts’ pre-season training camp in Ireland this week.
“We’re really just getting to know Jordan,” said Cathro. “I saw some footage of his games with Middlesbrough Under-23s last season and also some from his time at Hearts before. He’s a part of the group we’re working with just now. We’ve only been back a couple of weeks so it’ll take time. It’s a fresh start for him. There were no preconceived ideas on anything. We’re just getting to work with each other and seeing how things are. There will come a point when we have to make a decision.”
Jamie Walker was due to be among the group travelling to Ireland this morning despite a minor injury, but Liam Smith faces a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury and wasn’t expected to make the trip. Bjorn Johnsen, whose future has been the subject of speculation since a bust-up with the head coach at the end of last season, was also set to remain in Edinburgh for treatment on an injury sustained on international duty with Norway, while Arnaud Djoum won’t return to training until July 17 after his involvement in the Confederations Cup with Cameroon.