Hearts coach Ian Cathro wants unsettled winger Jamie Walker to report for pre-season training with the right attitude and ready to fight for the club’s cause.
Players return to Riccarton this Friday but Walker’s long-term future remains in doubt after he told the Tynecastle hierarchy he won’t sign a new contract.
His existing deal expires in 12 months time and he then intends to move on. That prompted Hearts director of football Craig Levein to declare that the club will now reluctantly listen to transfer bids for the 23-year-old.
Cathro is keen for Walker to work hard and earn any move, stressing that he can still be an inspirational player for Hearts until such time as an acceptable offer comes in.
“I look at it really simply: Jamie is one of my players,” Cathro told the Evening News. “He has great talent, a lot of potential and is someone who can be influential. He needs to come to work and be ready to fight, progress, grow, push himself and improve himself.
“It’s also my responsibility to help him develop and we’ll do that together. We aren’t going to be obsessed in the business side of things. We want to be obsessed with performance.
“These things will always be going on in the background in one way or another. The most important thing is the attitude of everyone to concentrate on the performance of the team. This kind of story exists constantly with different players so it’s a simple situation for me.”
After four weeks off, Cathro is eager to begin preparations for the 2017/18 campaign. Hearts’ first competitive match is the Betfred Cup Group B tie away to Elgin City on Tuesday, July 18.
“I’m looking forward to it. We don’t have a massive amount of time so it’s important we get together and start work with the players,” said the head coach.