Hearts youth star misses out on EFL chance

The rising starlet had caught the attention of EFL sides following Lowland League success
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Derby County had reportedly taken a shining to Hearts youth star Rocco Friel. The Daily Record noted that the League One side had 'cast their eyes' over the teenager with the intention of a potential move which has ultimately failed to materialise.

The 17-year-old currently plays in Liam Fox's Hearts' B team and has been a key cog in their success. They currently sit second in the SLFL table with 13 wins from 22 matches so far and have recorded just three defeats.

Rocco Friel in action for Hearts U21 in Youth CupRocco Friel in action for Hearts U21 in Youth Cup
Rocco Friel in action for Hearts U21 in Youth Cup
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Defender Friel was also reported to be joining the League One squad in a trial training session but this, too, is yet to happen. The interest comes as Derby could see the 17-year-old as one for the future at Pride Park as the side sit third in their league, in the hope of securing promotion back to the Championship for the 2024/25 season. If a deal had been made, the Daily Record claimed that the Gorgie-based side would have been due compensation from the Rams.

The Hearts B team starlet has made 11 appearances in all competitions for the development side, ten of which have come in the Lowland League. He began his youth career at Rangers before joining the Tynecastle side in 2021. The right-back is yet to make a senior appearance for Hearts but with his current contract up at the end of the campaign, his long-term future with the Premiership side remains unclear.

It is possible that Derby - who are managed by ex-Rotherham player and boss Paul Warne - will continue monitoring Friel's performances over the coming months with a view to sweep him up on a free transfer this summer.

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