Hearts manager Craig Levein is prepared to play Olly Lee if the midfielder fails to secure a move away from the club before the transfer deadline.
A proposed switch to the English League One club Southend United has fallen through but Lee still hopes to return south. If all attempts fail, Levein said he would have no hesitation calling the 28-year-old in from the cold.
He arrived from Luton Town last year and made 41 appearances in his first campaign in Edinburgh. He was frustrated at his lack of game time towards the end of last season and Hearts agreed he could leave this summer if he found another club.
Lee has not featured in any friendly or competitive games since May due to injury. The transfer deadline for England’s League One and Two is 5.00pm on Monday, September 2, so there is still time for him to negotiate a move.
Levein explained that if the situation does not change then he will remain a squad player at Tynecastle Park, where his contract runs for another two years,
“Olly’s agent was looking into a few things but the Southend thing hasn’t worked out. He is nearly fit after an injury so he just needs some game time. If he is going to be fit and available, then I will use him if I feel I need to,” the manager told the Evening News.
“It depends if somebody else comes in for him before the window closes. If that happens, then fine. If not, he will still be a squad player here. He still has a contract and he is a decent lad who I don’t have any issues with.
“I understand why he wants to go back to England. It’s not a situation that is unfamiliar to me because I’ve been involved in quite a lot of these things in the past with other players.
“We will see what happens between now and the window closing.”