Neil Alexander keen to be Hearts No.1 into his 40s

Neil Alexander has played in all 31 of Hearts league matches this season

Neil Alexander has played in all 31 of Hearts league matches this season

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Neil Alexander hopes to agree a contract extension with Hearts and remain the club’s No.1 into his 40s.

The 38-year-old has performed a dual role as goalkeeping coach and player over the past two seasons since arriving at Tynecastle from Crystal Palace in summer 2014.

The veteran is the only player to have started all 31 of Hearts’ league matches this season but is out of contract in the summer. Alexander anticipates talks with the club to be held later this month and is optimistic that a deal can be reached that suits both parties.

“The manager’s made it clear that he wants me to stay and I’ve told him that I want to stay but we’ve not sat down and discussed anything yet,” he told the Evening News. “We’ll hopefully sit down in the next two or three weeks and sort something out. Until you get things down on paper, then it’s never done.

“The club want me stay and I want to stay, so that’s probably the hardest stumbling block. It’s just a case of sitting down and agreeing things and fine-tuning what the club want in relation to what I want. Hopefully there will be no problems. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks.”

Alexander has enjoyed mixing coaching with playing at Hearts and hopes a similar arrangement can be negotiated going forward. Despite being just two years shy of his 40th birthday, he still feels in prime condition and has no plans to quit playing any time soon.

“I’d like it to stay the way it has been over the last two years,” he said. “I’ve loved the fact I’ve been able to experience the coaching side. That’s why I took the job in the first place. I want to progress with the coaching and continue doing that after I eventually hang up the gloves. But I think I’ve still got two or three years left in me at a decent level. I’m feeling really good and my performances have been good. Until my body or my form tells me otherwise, I’m going to keep on playing.

“I don’t feel my age at all. I still feel I can get to the same shots I could get to ten years ago. I’m probably doing more work than ever now in terms of the intensity of my training and also the coaching. It’s difficult to tell if that’s a help or a hindrance, but the most important thing is that when it comes to a match day I’m feeling good.

“I set myself very high standards so when I start dipping below those standards and letting in shots I should be saving, then I’ll know it’s time to look in the mirror and think about taking a step back. But as long as I’m still making saves like the ones I made at Celtic Park last week and putting in good performances, I’ll keep playing.

“The fact Shay Given [who turns 40 this month] is still playing and goalies like Brad Friedel, David James and David Seaman played until they were 40 shows it can be done. It’s not like I’m the only goalkeeper still going at 38. I look after myself, I eat right, I train right and I like to think I’m reaping the rewards from that. Who knows how long I’ll last, but I’m feeling good just now.”