HEARTS captain Alim Ozturk is suspended for the first league match of next season, the Evening News can reveal.
The defender received his sixth Premiership booking of this campaign against St Johnstone on Sunday, triggering a one-game ban effective from the start of season 2016/17.
Ozturk is eligible for Hearts’ European matches starting next month as the suspension only applies to domestic league fixtures. Referee Greg Aitken issued him a yellow card after only 13 minutes of the weekend game, which finished 2-2, and the caution pushed the player through the six-card disciplinary threshold.
Ozturk must now sit out the first game of next season. By then, Hearts will hope to have signed another centre-back after announcing that Blazej Augustyn’s contract will not be renewed. The Pole will leave Tynecastle when his one-year deal expires at the end of the month and his replacement is already being sought.
Head coach Robbie Neilson wants cover for Ozturk and John Souttar in central defence and also intends to sign a striker to augment his attacking options.
A goalkeeper is expected to arrive to allow 22-year-old second-choice keeper Jack Hamilton to go on loan next season.
The Hearts players are now on a break after their campaign ended on Sunday. They have just four weeks rest before reporting for pre-season training on June 15. The first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round takes place on June 30, with the draw on June 20.