James Keatings has left Hearts by mutual consent after one season at Tynecastle. The striker is now free to find a new team after agreeing to sever ties with the Edinburgh club.
Keatings scored 11 goals in 33 games this season as Hearts romped to the Scottish Championship title. He was told by head coach Robbie Neilson that he would be a squad player in the Premiership next year and decided to leave in the hope of playing more regularly elsewhere.
The 23-year-old had 12 months remaining on the two-year contract he signed after swapping Hamilton Accies for Hearts last summer. However, he explained that he had to move for the sake of his career.
“The first half of the season was magnificent because I was playing and scoring, and that’s what I came here to do,” Keatings told the club website. “I’ve had the opportunity to play at Tynecastle, which I’d heard a lot of good things about, and it’s lived up to its reputation.
“The fans have taken to me and so have the people here at the club. The fans have been magnificent with me and I just want to thank them for making me feel welcome.
“It’s a sad day that I’m leaving but I’m sure the club will step on and do well and hopefully I’ll do the same with my career, which is why I’ve made this decision.
“I’d like to thank the club as well for being great with me during this period. They’ve been great behind the scenes and haven’t stood in my way, so for that I thank them.”
Neilson pointed out that Keatings more than played his part in Hearts’ title success. “Both the club and myself would like to thank James for all his efforts this season and wish him the best in the future. I’m sure he’ll get a warm reception when he comes back to Tynecastle.”