Hearts deal for Alex Cochrane is close as defender prepares to leave Brighton for a fee

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Alex Cochrane’s return to Hearts is close following talks with Brighton and Hove Albion about a permanent transfer to Edinburgh.

Tynecastle officials are working to finalise a deal to bring the 22-year-old back north following last season’s successful loan spell. They are prepared to pay the English Premier League club a six-figure fee if they can agree terms with the defender.

Brighton invoked their option to extend Cochrane’s contract at the start of this month which ties him to the club until summer 2023. However, he is keen to play first-team football regularly again next term rather than remain a squad player or head out on loan.

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Hearts have submitted their offer and Cochrane is keen on the prospect of playing in maroon next year with the lure of European group stage football. Other clubs including Coventry City and Queens Park Rangers are also competing for his signature but, as things stand, Hearts are favourites to sign him.

Cochrane made 40 appearances in Scotland last season and frequently enjoyed the left wing-back role in a 3-4-3 system at Tynecastle. His consistency and maturity as a younger player impressed Riccarton coaching staff and they are now eager to bring him back.

Hearts are also working to agree contract terms with the Peterborough United midfielder Jorge Grant and remain hopeful of signing the Scotland international striker Lawrence Shankland from Belgian club Beerschot.

They have already recruited winger Alan Forrest from Livingston, defender Lewis Neilson from Dundee United and the Australian international centre-back Kye Rowles from Central Coast Mariners.

More signings will follow ahead of the 2022/23 campaign as the Edinburgh club look to expand their squad for domestic and European commitments.