Josh Ginnelly opens up on his Hearts contract talks and reveals what he wants
With just a few weeks remaining on his Hearts contract, Josh Ginnelly has plenty to ponder. He first wants to help the club finish third in the Premiership, but thereafter comes the complicated issue of his future. Talks with Tynecastle Park officials are ongoing and the forward admits he does want to sign a new deal.
Any agreement must enable him to relocate family from the south of England to live in the Edinburgh area. Aged 26, Ginnelly wants a long-term commitment from Hearts and is in no rush to leave. He is settled, content, and enjoying a productive run of form on the field with nine goals in his last 14 games.
The player claimed a goal and an assist to help Hearts recover from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at St Mirren on Saturday. Footballing matters are most prevalent in his mind at the moment with three games of the Premiership campaign left. Nonetheless, where he will play next season is coming sharply into focus.
Ginnelly has talked the situation through with Steven Naismith, Hearts’ interim manager. He also spoke exclusively to the Evening News to explain his predicament. “I’m the one out of contract but my main focus is actually finishing the season as strongly as I can,” he said. “Getting that third spot is massive for the club. Whether I’m here or not, we need to get that third spot because we’ve thrown it away right now.
“I would never, ever dismiss what I’ve got at this club. I’m usually the changing-room clown everywhere I go and I still am, but I’ve got a really good relationship with everybody. I’m constantly smiling around the place and I’m happy. That’s a credit to the team and who has come in. Everybody is pulling in the right direction.
“It’s obviously a tough decision but I’m not too involved in the conversations. Ideally, I do want to stay. I’m obviously at an age where I need to look out for myself. I’m not saying I’m going because I don’t know yet. Fans will think it’s just me but my agent reports back to me and we talk about it. I’ll probably talk about it with Naisy and people around the club.
“It’s never just: ‘Here’s a piece of paper, sign it.’ If I sign, it needs to be what I want and what the club wants as well. It needs to benefit everyone. I’m just hoping we can get to that point and keep pushing forward.”
Fans often assume that these negotiations boil down purely to money. How much a player wants and how much a club is willing to pay are usually two different sums. Ginnelly stressed there is more to his discussions than just finance.
“There are a lot of people on Twitter who, if you leave a club, you’re money-hungry and whatever,” he said. “I haven’t seen my family more than three times this year. It’s a long way for me to go if I want to go home – six or seven hours. These things all come into play.
“If I do decide to sign then I have to bring everybody up, so I have to make sure the deal is right. It sounds crazy but you never know what happens in life. My family is the only thing I’m bothered about. Like I said, it’s not just about a piece of paper. I need to make sure it’s right for my family and myself. I’m hoping we can come to an agreement.
“I’m a Mumma’s boy and I don’t care about saying that. I dont’ get to see my mum a lot, or my dad, my sister, my brother, nieces and stuff. That all comes into context because I’m not just thinking about myself. Football is nothing compared to your family.”
His Hearts family are growing in appreciation given recent form. Ginnelly converted Saturday’s first goal from Nathaniel Atkinson’s cross and then won the penalty from which Lawrence Shankland equalised at 2-2. He played a central role in erasing St Mirren’s two-goal advantage but still left Paisley somewhat exasperated.
“It was a frustrating day,” said the Englishman. “Without disrespecting St Mirren, they are a solid team and they’ve made history this season, but how we played in the first half isn’t acceptable. We got a man sent off [Peter Haring], then we start playing football with 10 men. It just shows we can do it. We have to come into these games and earn the right to play.
“We need to go into the last three games being proactive, not reactive. We have to start on the front foot. Teams aren’t going to sit off us, they are going to press because everybody is playing for something right now. We shouldn’t need to concede two goals and get a red card to start playing our game.
“The fans got us back into the game on Saturday, they were brilliant. It’s tough for them to travel and watch us play like we did in the first half. We got a goal and I knew we would get another moment. I’m happy I played my part in it.”
Weekend results leave Hearts still facing a five-point gap between themselves and third-placed Aberdeen, who visit Tynecastle this Saturday. “A lot of focus is on the gap but things need to stay in-house with us. We deserve to be where we are because of how we performed recently,” admitted Ginnelly. “It’s going to take real mentality to claw that back but there is more than enough ability here to do that.”