PAUL HARTLEY today implored Hearts to do everything possible to keep Rudi Skacel at Tynecastle as the Czech midfielder enters the final weeks of his contract.
Skacel becomes a free agent at the end of the month, although Hearts have not relinquished hope of retaining his services and are discussing the possibility of extending his deal. Much will depend on finances with the club reluctant to re-sign the 32-year-old on his existing terms. Hartley is eager to see his close friend stay and urged Hearts to pull out all the stops to keep a player who is very much the darling of the Tynecastle support.
“I still keep in touch with Rudi and he’s an important player for Hearts,” Hartley told the Evening News. “Over the years, Hearts have seen too many good players leave. He’s the type of person they need around the club. He’s got a personality, he scores goals, he’s popular with the fans, so he’s a player I’d like to see stay in the Scottish game. He’s maybe not played as much this season as he had done previously, although I think he was carrying a little injury. The younger lads, like Gordon Smith, Kevin McHattie, Scott Robinson and others will look up to Skacel. He’s an experienced player. He enjoys it there, he loves the club, so why not keep him? Keep your good players at the club.”
Skacel is Hearts’ top scorer this season with five goals from 21 appearances, although many of those outings have been as a substitute. He struck 13 times in 29 games last season.
The player used his Twitter account yesterday to reveal that he is keen to stay with Hearts but is not happy with his recent bit-part role. “I’m talking to Hearts. My priority to stay!” he tweeted. “I feel I can still help the club but u need to understand I do not wanna sit on the bench!”