Hearts will offer Michael Smith a new contract and plan to discuss terms with the defender at the end of the month.
The 30-year-old was outstanding as a sweeper in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Motherwell and manager Craig Levein believes he has a long-term future at Tynecastle Park.
Once Hearts’ fixtures are completed at the end of the month, the Premiership’s winter break will give Levein more time to hold talks with players whose contracts expire next summer.
Smith is high on the agenda and the manager explained that his contract extension will be treated as a priority.
“I’ve already intimated that we are going to do something with Michael, for sure,” said Levein. “There are so many games coming up just now.
“Recently, I had some contract talks with players and it’s not quite gone the way I would like. It sometimes affects their form so I will wait until we’ve finished the games at the end of this month and we will get something sorted.”
Smith’s impressive display in the centre of a back three helped Hearts record their first win in eight games at the weekend.
“That security of having an extra player in the back line helps just in case one of the other two make a mistake,” added Levein.
“Michael hasn’t played that actual position for me before. He was playing as an old-fashioned sweeper, but he did it wonderfully well. I thought the back three were magnificent.
“Michael is an experienced player, he’s got good pace, his positioning is good, he’s a decent passer of the ball. Generally, he’s quite a versatile defender.”
Smith reiterated his desire to extend his Hearts contract, which expires in May 2019.
“I’m definitely happy to stay here,” he said. “There’s a lot of time to talk about it. We will maybe sit down in the next few weeks and have a chat about it. I’m happy, my family are happy and I’ll be delighted if they want me to stay.”