Craig Levein won’t discuss Hearts deals until top six is secured

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Hearts manager Craig Levein has put player contract talks on hold whilst the club try to secure their top-six place.

Keen not to cause unnecessary distractions, Levein wants a place in the upper echelons of the Ladbrokes Premiership guaranteed before discussing players’ futures.

Craig Levein is focused on matter on the pitch with Hearts. Pic: SNS

Craig Levein is focused on matter on the pitch with Hearts. Pic: SNS

Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, defender Aaron Hughes and midfielder Prince Buaben are all in the final weeks of their contracts. Loan deals are also due to expire for Demetri Mitchell, Joaquim Adao, Steven Naismith, Connor Randall and David Milinkovic.

Levein hopes to keep several of those named above but is preoccupied with ensuring top-six football after the Premiership’s split next month. Victory for Hearts against Dundee at Dens Park next week could complete that task but the manager is taking nothing for granted.

“I haven’t spoken much about contracts yet. My focus has been on trying to get the top-six place tied up and I can look at that afterwards,” he said. “We all want the top six finalised and that has to be the priority. That’s all I’m looking at and that’s all the players will be focused on, too.”

McLaughlin held detailed discussions earlier this year about a new deal, although he is expected to leave when his existing contract finishes.

Hearts currently sit sixth in the league table with a six-point advantage over seventh-placed Motherwell, who have a game in hand. After the trip to Dundee, they host Aberdeen at Tynecastle in their last fixture before the split.