DESPITE playing a central part in Hearts’ season to date, midfielder Ian Black will be released by the Edinburgh club when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
Hearts have informed Black that they will not utilise an option to extend his deal by another 12 months. They are looking to operate with a significantly smaller squad next season and the 27-year-old is deemed surplus to requirements after three years at Tynecastle.
With David Obua and Marian Kello also allowed to leave recently, Hearts’ summer cull has begun early. Black is currently playing with the pain of a hernia and will undergo an operation at the end of the season. He hopes to be able to continue until the Scottish Cup final with Hibs, after which he will become a free agent.
“I understand the club’s position and, while it is unfortunate they will not be extending my contract due to the fact they plan to operate with a smaller squad next season, I hope I can go on and further my career,” said Black.
“Coming to Tynecastle was a good move for me and it was a dream to sign for the club I have supported since childhood. I have enjoyed my time here and believe I have been good for the club. The fans have always been brilliant to me and I’d like to say a special thank-you to them for their support over the years.
“There are some massive games for me to focus on between now and the end of the season and that is my priority. I will be giving 100 per cent over the next few weeks.” A Hearts spokesperson said: “The move to Hearts provided Ian with a platform to demonstrate his qualities and we would like to wish him the very best of luck with the next step in his football career.”
Clubs in England have been monitoring Black’s situation in recent months and may now make a move for the midfielder, who is available to sign a pre-contract agreement.