Ross Callachan to leave Hearts as first-team chances dwindle

Ross Callachan
Ross Callachan
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Ross Callachan is set to leave Hearts after slipping down the pecking order for a midfield berth.

The 24-year-old made 20 starts last season after joining from Raith Rovers 11 months ago, but fell out of favour towards the end of the campaign after a costly mistake in the Scottish Cup defeat by Motherwell in March. The arrival of a host of new midfielders this summer has done little to aid Callachan’s hopes of regular game time, and he hasn’t made the match-day squad for any of the three Betfred Cup matches so far. Manager Craig Levein confirmed that he has held talks with the boyhood Hearts supporter’s representative and that the player is currently in the process of trying to fix himself up with a new club.

“Ross wants to play every week and we’ve had a conversation with his agent, who is speaking to a number of clubs,” said Levein. “I’ve told his agent I can’t guarantee him a first-team spot so his agent’s trying to find him something else. I think that’s only fair. He wants to play every week and I don’t want to be holding him back if he maybe feels he needs to go somewhere to get regular first-team football. It’s a normal situation. I don’t know if it will be a loan or permanent – I’m relaxed about that. Teams have been in touch about Ross, so we’ll see what happens.”

Levein also offered an update on midfielder Malaury Martin. The Frenchman hasn’t featured for the first team for almost a year after failing to win over the manager. He still has another two years to run on his contract, but Levein is hopeful that the out-of-favour 29-year-old can secure himself a move this summer.

“He’s a great boy but he’s just not my cup of tea as a player,” said Levein. “It’s nothing to do with him as a person, he’s a lovely guy. It’s just a normal situation. Things change, and I want to do something different in the midfield area. He’s not going to play here, so we’ll see what happens. We’ll need to find him something, perhaps back in France, or Scandinavia, where he was before.”

One midfielder who has a part to play at Hearts is Ryan Edwards. The recent recruit from Partick Thistle was an unused substitute in the matches against Cove Rangers and Raith Rovers and wasn’t in the squad for the win over Cowdenbeath on Tuesday.

“Ryan’s in a similar situation to Ben Garuccio,” explained Levein. “Ben hadn’t really hit the ground running and been fully on form in the matches he’d played but he’s starting to show a fair bit in training so I felt it was time for him to get an opportunity. Ryan’s just a little bit behind but once he gets up to full speed, you’ll see him as well.”

Levein has been encouraged by the adaptability of his players after they changed formation mid-game against both Raith Rovers and Cowdenbeath. The manager set his team up in a 3-5-2 for much of pre-season but explained that his team are perfectly equipped to switch to four at the back, as they did in the last two games.

“Last year we changed a number of times depending on circumstances, and I feel quite good that we can do that,” said Levein. “We changed after 25 minutes or so the other night. I name a second formation at the start of the game so if we need to change mid-game, everybody knows what we’re doing straight away. I feel quite good about that. It feels quite comfortable.”

Levein explained that the versatile Steven Naismith will continue to be given freedom to roam wherever he likes. The on-loan Norwich City player has played up front in the past, but has generally operated in a deeper role since first arriving at Hearts in January. “It’s a long time since he played as a striker,” said Levein. “He played off the side at Norwich, he’s played behind the striker and as an attacking midfielder. With guys like him and Steven MacLean, I tend to let them go where they want to go because they read the game so well. Naisy’s quite clever so rather than restrict him by telling him to stay in a particular area, I think it’s much better for him to be able to work off what other people are doing. He dictated a lot of the play for us against Cowdenbeath the other night. With somebody like him, the more often he’s on the ball the better. For us, he’ll play wide, he’ll play off the front, he’ll play in midfield and he might play as a striker occasionally. He’s versatile so it just depends where I feel he’s best suited.”