Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin set for move back to England
Craig Levein has conceded that goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is set to leave the club at the end of the season.
McLaughlin has been regularly linked with a move back to England since his move north of the border from Burton last summer, and is set for a return after an impressive debut campaign.
The keeper forced his way into the Scotland reckoning and was a member of the last squad named by Alex McLeish, but he is set to turn down a new contract put on the table by Hearts and return to England.
Both Levein and McLaughlin have been open in confirming talks were ongoing over extending his stay in Edinburgh, but the Jambos boss appears to have accepted his fate after admitting his club could not compete with the finances on the table from elsewhere.
“Jon will probably move back down to England,” Levein said. “I’ve had numerous discussions with him and he’s had interest from some fairly big clubs.
“We can’t compete with that financially and Jon and I have spoken regularly about it.
“When he does move on, he moves on with my best wishes and everybody else at the club because he’s been a great player to have around the dressing room as well as on the field.”
McLaughlin’s departure will be a blow to Hearts who have relied heavily on their defence this season
The goalkeeper formed a strong partnership at the back with Christophe Berra and John Souttar, a foundation that has seen the side concede just 32 league goals this season - only Celtic have conceded less.
Work is already underway to replace the former Burton and Bradford man, but something the club has made headway with is a move to bring in Jake Mulraney from Inverness, with Angus Beith set to head the other way.
“Nothing is signed and sealed,” Levein admitted. “I’ve been speaking to Robbo (Inverness manager John Robertson) back and forwards.
“Angus is a player that we like but has had problems injury wise. While he’s been injured, some of the younger ones have improved past him and because of that he’s probably not had as much game time as he’d like at his age.
“It’s a fantastic situation for him and also for young Jake. We are looking for somebody in the wide area with real pace.
“Hopefully it will work for both parties.”