Kevin McHattie will get every chance with Hearts

Kevin McHattie is valued by Hearts coach Robbie Neilson
Kevin McHattie is valued by Hearts coach Robbie Neilson
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Robbie neilson admitted today he is in no immediate rush to sign a new left-back and will give Kevin McHattie every chance to prove himself.

The Hearts head coach wants another full-back to compete with McHattie but stressed there is no great urgency.

Having released Adam Eckersley at the end of the season, Neilson intends to be patient until he finds a suitable replacement. He wants a defender younger than 29-year-old Eckersley and who has greater sell-on potential for the future.

McHattie will get his chance when pre-season training begins at the end of next week. The 21-year-old could go through the summer friendlies as Hearts’ only left-back of any experience, for Neilson is prepared to wait until nearer the start of the new season in August to get the right player.

“I’d like to get a left-back in but we can wait for it a little bit,” he told the Evening News. “It’s not hugely important through pre-season, although towards the end of it we would like to get somebody in.

“We’ve got Kevin there and whoever comes in will be competition for him. We can run with Kevin and then see what comes up. There are always players around, it’s just important that we don’t rush into things because we want to bring the right type of players into the squad.”

Nigerian internationalist left-back Juwon Oshaniwa claimed last week that Hearts were one of three British clubs who wanted to sign him, but the Evening News has learned that no offer has been made to the player or his club, Ashdod.

“My club president confirmed the official proposal from Hearts and let me know that talks are still on to seal the deal alongside my agent Ladi Salami in the UK,” said Oshaniwa. “And more so, my agent confirmed interest of Celtic and from Sheffield Wednesday.

“I will be so glad to leave for greener pastures to meet up with my goal in a well-developed league to improve on the status I have got in football. And I am very sure I can achieve my aim with these clubs.”

Hearts’ priorities remain a new centre-back and a new striker. Negotiations are ongoing for the Queen of the South forward Gavin Reilly and both Hearts and the Dumfries club are confident they will reach a successful conclusion.