Robbie Neilson insists Hearts have no plans to cash in on John Souttar any time soon.
The centre-back, who turned 20 last month, has been touted for a call-up to the Scotland squad and linked with English Championship side Aston Villa on the back of a strong start to the season.
Souttar, who moved to Tynecastle from Dundee United for £150,000 in January, is contracted to Hearts until summer 2019.
After a difficult time at Tannadice, the highly-regarded defender is enjoying the chance to develop in his favoured role with Hearts and Neilson is confident the player is of no mind to have his head turned by talk of a move south.
“We’ve certainly not got any plans to cash in on John,” the head coach told the Evening News. “He’s one of our key players. He’s been great this season but he knows himself he’s got a few years left here before he’s ready to make a move.”
Asked if he had detected any firm interest in the highly-regarded defender, Neilson said: “I think there’s interest in a lot of our players, but the window doesn’t open until January. I expect all our good players to be linked with teams in England. If they’re not, then there’s a problem.”
Meanwhile, Faycal Rherras is available to return to the Hearts side for Wednesday’s trip to Kilmarnock. The Moroccan left-back sat out the 2-0 win over Dundee nine days ago after falling ill while on international duty. “Faycal’s fine,” reported Neilson. “He picked up a bug when he was away with the national team. He was sick and felt terrible and had to go to hospital but he’s fine now. He’s trained over the weekend.”
On the pitch, Hearts Under-20s marched into the fourth round of the SFA Youth Cup with an emphatic 10-0 win over Annan Athletic at Tynecastle yesterday, with Ali Roy scoring a hat-trick.