Hamilton fear Hearts swoop for James Keatings

James Keatings has rejected Hamilton's offer
James Keatings has rejected Hamilton's offer
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Hamilton are concerned about losing top goalscorer James Keatings to Hearts after he rejected the offer of a new contract.

The 22-year-old seemed keen to continue his career in Lanarkshire after Hamilton’s promotion to the Scottish Premiership. However, manager Alex Neil fears he may now lose the player due to interest from Tynecastle.

Hearts are keen to replenish their squad after releasing experienced mainstays like Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson. They are in the market for a striker but have not confirmed their interest in Keatings, who scored 15 goals in 35 games for Hamilton in the Championship last season.

Keatings has rejected Hamilton’s offer of a new deal and Neil is worried that the player may head for pastures new. “We offered James a contract but he has decided to knock it back,” said the player/manager.

“It’s a bit of a surprise because I had spoken to James and we had agreed that he would re-sign.

“It was only going to be a short-term deal and he’s looking for a bit more security as well, he has a young family.

“I would not say it’s dead in the water although I’ve heard that Hearts are interested in him. I would be disappointed to lose him as I think there is more to come from him. I don’t begrudge James at all though.”

Keatings spent his formative years as a youth player at Celtic and enjoyed loan spells with St Johnstone and Hamilton. He signed a permanent one-year contract at New Douglas Park last summer and is a Scotland youth internationalist at under-16, under-17 and under-19 level.