Hearts could have the option to re-sign Lee Wallace as part of any deal, although it remains to be seen if they take that up. Discussions are ongoing but the Edinburgh club are open to a transfer for an acceptable fee.
Hearts rejected an offer worth £200,000 in total from Rangers for Lafferty last month. Manager Craig Levein admitted he is in continued dialogue with Ibrox officials, although he was reluctant to divulge details.
“We are still talking. There is nothing more I can say at this moment in time,” he said. “The dialogue has been sporadic. I don’t want to go into any details but I am not resigned to losing him. I am keeping people up to speed to inform that the Lafferty deal is not dead.”
Asked about the possibility of bringing Wallace back to Tynecastle Park after he fell out of favour in Glasgow, Levein replied: “I don’t want to say anything else.”
Hearts are exploring contingency plans in the event of losing their top goalscorer from last season. “I look at contingency plans all the time,” continued Levein. “I am assessing whether Aidan Keena can take the step up. He has done quite well last season and in pre-season, so we will see.”
Levein confirmed he intends to sign another defender to compensate for the loss of captain Christophe Berra. He is facing six months out with a torn hamstring.
“I am looking to bring somebody in. I am working on it but I don’t expect anybody in by the weekend,” said Levein, whose team travel to Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup last-16 tomorrow.
“I will definitely look to bring someone in on a season-long thing. Even if Christophe comes back in six months, it takes time to get back up to speed. I will not get another Christophe so I have to be quite specific about what I want.”
Levein added that Berra’s off-the-field influence at Riccarton remains strong despite a devastating injury blow. “He’ll be in rehabbing and he’ll be in and about the place anyway. He is not going to be sitting at home,” said the manager.
“His leadership qualities off the field will still be there. He’s been in every day since Saturday.
“We won’t miss him off the field because he will still be here and doing stuff with the players and keeping everybody focused. On the field he will be a loss. I will need to do something about that.”