Robbie Neilson reveals Hearts' plans for 12 out-of-contract players

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has a plan for out-of-contract players.Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has a plan for out-of-contract players.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has a plan for out-of-contract players.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson today explained the club’s plans for 12 players whose contracts expire at the end of the season.

Talks will take place later in the campaign with those Neilson wants to keep, but he wants to be sure of promotion back to the Premiership first.

Only then can Hearts accurately predict their financial income for season 2021/22 and issue new deals based on those projections.

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Those with permanent contracts expiring are defenders Michael Smith, Stephen Kingsley, Christophe Berra and Aidy White, midfielders Olly Lee, Andy Irving and Harry Cochrane, forwards Craig Wighton and Elliott Frear, plus keepers Zdenek Zlamal and Colin Doyle.

Winger Josh Ginnelly’s loan from Preston North End also finishes next summer concurrent with his contract at Deepdale. Hearts would be interested in signing him as a free agent on a permanent agreement.

Neilson told the Evening News today that contracts will be attended to later in the campaign because winning the Championship title is the priority.

“It just depends how things are going and how the boys are feeling as well,” he said. “Our objective this season is to win the league so it's difficult to really commit on anything until we do that.

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“It will be into next year before we are ready to commit on anything. The plan is to get promotion and we need to make sure we do that before we start over-committing on things.

“There are a few we would be interested in keeping but it's like anything else. It's very early in the season and we have to make sure everything is right. We want to see everyone sustain this campaign and get us over the line.”

With a Scottish Cup final to come, plus progress to the Betfred Cup knockout stage on top of a 100 per cent league record, Neilson believes motivation should not be an issue for any Hearts player.

"The goal of winning the league and making sure that we're on it every single day is the most important thing for us,” he added. “Every game we go into we're expected to win it because we've said we want to win the league.

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"For me, there are never really any issues about motivation at all. You know you have to win every week when you're at Hearts.”

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