The 10 Hearts first-team players on expiring contracts and their chances of an extension

A look at each of the first team players in Frankie McAvoy’s squad who are going into the final year of their contracts.
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Michael McGovern

The only signing so far this summer joined on a one-year deal earlier this month. There is an option for another 12 months and though Hearts didn’t specify who held the option, you’d have to think it’s the club with McGovern already 39 years old. Hearts will exercise the option if a) he is, at the very least, reliable when called upon, and b) if this next guy doesn’t sign an extension.

Craig Gordon

Craig Gordon will return from a double-leg break in the final year of his Hearts contract. Picture: SNSCraig Gordon will return from a double-leg break in the final year of his Hearts contract. Picture: SNS
Craig Gordon will return from a double-leg break in the final year of his Hearts contract. Picture: SNS

Gordon isn’t expected to return until after the clocks go back. Coming off a brutal leg break and turning 41 on Hogmanay, history is against Gordon establishing himself as No.1 again, especially as Zander Clark impressed in reserve last season. What’s likely to happen is he makes his return, gets a handful of games this season to earn some rightful plaudits, a fitting send off and then retires. But don’t be too surprised if he establishes himself as first choice again by the season’s end. Gordon is used to defying the odds.

Craig Halkett

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A big season for both player and club with regards to this union. The Halkett of 2021/22 could go test himself at a higher level, having previously got to the fringes of the Scotland squad, so it may be in Hearts’ best interest to extend his deal early before he returns to such form. However, it won’t be until late September at the earliest when he returns, by that point he’ll have only played a handful of games in 18 months due to injury. So there’s also a threat the club could saddle themselves with a weighty contract for a 28-year-old who has already peaked.

Beni Baningime

Craig Halkett and Beni Baningime are both returning from ACL tears this season and are in the final year of their deal. Picture: SNSCraig Halkett and Beni Baningime are both returning from ACL tears this season and are in the final year of their deal. Picture: SNS
Craig Halkett and Beni Baningime are both returning from ACL tears this season and are in the final year of their deal. Picture: SNS

Much the same as Halkett, the club have decision to make with a player returning from injury: wait and see if he’s back to his best but increase the risk of losing him for nothing if he proves the ACL tear hasn’t hampered him, or make an early commitment and potentially have it blow up in their face. At 24, Baningime is significantly younger and therefore more likely to encourage Hearts into taking a leap of faith.

Cammy Devlin

This feels like a crossroads season for the human version of the Tasmanian Devil. Last term started out very promisingly with Devlin appearing to take a step forward after his impressive debut campaign, but his form soon fluctuated and familiar problems reared their head, mainly his precarious passing. He’s always someone who has looked to advance play, but the aggressiveness in which Hearts now operate in possession could further highlight his limitations. But in this sink or swim scenario, if he keeps his head above water then he should thrive with his intensity very much suited to the new style of play. Hearts should look to keep him around regardless and negotiations may depend on how each party views Devlin’s status within the squad: is he a handy squad player or an important first-team regular?

Alan Forrest

Alan Forrest will be looking to return to his early-season form of 2022/23 in a bid to earn a contract extension. Picture: SNSAlan Forrest will be looking to return to his early-season form of 2022/23 in a bid to earn a contract extension. Picture: SNS
Alan Forrest will be looking to return to his early-season form of 2022/23 in a bid to earn a contract extension. Picture: SNS

Forrest started out last season rather promisingly as he netted four goals before mid-September. But the relentless pressure of being an attacking player at Hearts seemed to take its toll and sap his confidence. He netted just once more the rest of the campaign and ultimately made more substitute appearances than starts. Unless he gets back to his early Tynecastle form, you have to assume Hearts will be content to let his contract run down as much as possible before making a decision.

Andy Halliday

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By Halliday’s own admission, he didn’t end last season in particularly great form, which has inspired him to work doubly hard this pre-season as he nears his 32nd birthday. His versatility and dependability should mean he gets a year’s extension if he can contribute regularly. However, the formation change from the 3-4-3 to a 4-4-1-1 could see fewer opportunities for the ex-Rangers man. Instead of having Stephen Kingsley and Alex Cochrane in the same team, as was typical under former boss Robbie Neilson with Halliday the back-up to Cochrane at left wing-back, it’s likely one or the other will play in a back four, while there’s already three midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order and rumours of another soon coming in.

Peter Haring

You’d have been forgiven for thinking Haring’s Hearts career was at an end when he missed six months last season due to lingering effects of a concussion, but he showed enough in the last few games to convince the club into triggering his extension. Having just turned 30, it feels like it’s got to the stage where, if Haring is going to stick around for a while longer, it’ll be on a year by year basis. And, again, a decision probably won’t be made until later in the campaign.

Connor Smith

Typically when a player goes out on loan for the final six months of their deal it means their career at the parent club is all but over, but Hearts decided to give Smith once final chance to prove himself. Unless he takes a meteoric jump this season – going from the bottom of the centre-midfield pecking order to one of the first names on the teamsheet – this is very much an audition for player to persuade club he’s deserved of another contract.

Liam Boyce

Boyce’s contract was due to have expired already when he first suffered his ACL tear back in August 2022, but Neilson had enough faith to give him another year. Turning 33 before the end of the campaign, coming off his second serious knee injury, you wouldn't be surprised if this proves to be Boyce’s last year in Gorgie. Then again, pace was never really one of his strong suits, and if he can chip in with around ten goals he should get himself another 12 months.