Hearts manager Craig Levein reported today that Jamie Walker is focused and “in a good place” because talk of a transfer to Rangers has now ceased.
The 24-year-old produced his best performance of the season so far on Saturday as Hearts won 2-1 at Hamilton Academical.
Levein revealed he hasn’t even needed to speak with Walker about his future since taking charge as manager three weeks ago.
Rangers pursued the player all summer, had two bids rejected and tried to negotiate a deal with Levein on the final day of the transfer window. However, Hearts held firm and Walker remains their player, although his contract expires next June.
Levein today praised Walker’s application in training and games and said he is delighted with his contribution.
“I’m thrilled with Jamie,” he told the Evening News. “Despite all the nonsense that went on before, I haven’t even had a conversation with him about it. From the moment I took over, he’s just trained well and played well.
“I don’t really see the need to do anything. He’s obviously in a good place so we’ll see how things go. I think it has helped him that the transfer window is closed. It must have been difficult for him.
“He seems really focused. He did a lot of things in Saturday’s match which aren’t synonymous with Jamie Walker. He was gritty, hard working, stealing the ball, putting in tackles. If he can add that to his game on a regular basis then he’s going to become an even better player.”
Hearts head to Partick Thistle this weekend but Levein confirmed that striker Conor Sammon will not play for the Glasgow club as part of his season-long loan agreement.
“Connor won’t be able to play. That’s the deal,” he said.
Levein is keen to see the kind of defensive resilience Hearts showed at Hamilton repeated against Thistle. “We’ll need to do that. Christophe Berra is a big help and I thought John Souttar was excellent on Saturday,” said Levein. “Rafal Grzelak had to change his position to play centre-back and he made an error for Hamilton’s goal. What I liked about him was he retained his focus. He didn’t let that affect him and he defended well for the rest of the match.”