No Hearts contract for Mergim Bajraktari

Mergim Bajraktari.  Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Mergim Bajraktari. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
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Hearts have decided against offering a contract to trialist Mergim Bajraktari.

The Swiss-born Albanian 22-year-old, most recently of Stade Nyonnais, had spent some time training at Riccarton before joining Robbie Neilson’s squad on their pre-season trip to Ireland last week.

The versatile former Albania Under-21 internationalist can play anywhere in defence or midfield, and was given two 45-minute outings in Hearts’ friendlies against Dublin sides Bohemians and Shelbourne. Playing in midfield in both games, Bajraktari’s most notable involvement was to set up Gary Oliver’s opener with a forward pass in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Shels.

However, since returning to Edinburgh with the rest of the squad on Sunday, he has been informed by head coach Neilson that Hearts will be taking their interest no further.

The Tynecastle side are back in action tonight when they visit Raith Rovers for their third friendly of the summer. They then play away to Dumbarton on Thursday evening and Neilson, who changed his entire XI at half-time in both of the Dublin friendlies, intends to ensure that most of his players get at least one hour-long outing this week.

“In the two games this week, we’ll probably play 60 minutes with one team and then play another team for the last half hour, then we’ll flip it for the second game,” he told the Evening News. “That gets the players 60 minutes’ game time instead of the 45 they’ve had in Ireland. It’ll be a similar idea to how I divided the team up for the two games in Ireland except they’ll all get an hour at some point.”

It remains to be seen if Alim Ozturk, who limped off with a tight groin after 27 minutes of the Shelbourne game, will feature tonight. The Turk, who is feeling his way back to fitness after undergoing a stomach operation in May, was due to be assessed this morning.

Meanwhile, Neilson confirmed that he will be taking his first team to this Saturday’s D+K Lafferty Cup in Oban. The six-team tournament, which involves all sides playing five half-hour matches against each other, will also feature hosts Oban Saints, the first team of Hamilton Accies, and Under-20 teams from Alloa, Dundee United and St Johnstone.

“I’m not sure exactly how Oban will work yet [in terms of how much game time everyone will get],” said Neilson. “It’s 30 minute games but we’ll be taking the first team and just rotating them.”