Callum Paterson will not sign a new contract at Hearts after reiterating his desire to continue his career elsewhere.
The Scotland defender has told head coach Ian Cathro he won’t extend his deal, which expires at the end of the season.
Paterson is currently recovering from cruciate and medial ligament damage to his left knee and won’t be fit until September.
Hearts will allow him to finish his rehabilitation at Riccarton even after his contract ends.
They had hoped to persuade the 22-year-old to sign an extension rather than risk trying to find a new club whilst recovering from a nine-month injury absence.
However, Paterson has rejected the chance to stay in Edinburgh and intends to take a chance on impressing clubs in England.
Hearts will be due between £400,000 and £450,000 in training compensation once he joins a new team.
Jack Hamilton, John Souttar and Rory Currie all signed new contracts until 2020 at Tynecastle yesterday. Asked if Paterson would follow suit, Cathro admitted defeat.
“I think that’s an unlikely situation,” he said. “Callum has been very honest in his dialogue with the club, even a long time before I became involved.
“It probably is the point – and I respect his view on that – for him to take the next step in his career. We have suffered the [injury] situation we have suffered. It’s a horrible situation for him.
“It was a moment where, most likely, the offer was going to be there for him to move and take that next challenge in his career. That’s what he wants to do. I respect that.
“It’s been an honest dialogue throughout. These are situations that we need to just manage almost day-to-day.”
Hearts will ensure Paterson is fully fit before he goes as a thankyou for his efforts since breaking into the first team five years ago. “The first thing that we need to do is support his recovery and make sure that it’s right, make sure that the rehab’s right,” continued Cathro.
“He will be a Hearts player until the point where he has fully recovered. Also, there is a massive respect to Callum for the impact and influence that he has had on the team over a period of time.
“He cares a lot about the people here and to a massive degree for this club. There’s nothing but understanding and respect from both sides. He’s a guy I have a hell of a lot of time for and will support and speak to. We will just manage the situation as best we can.”