Three Hearts players to leave Tynecastle as the club begin reorganising ahead of a busy summer
Three Hearts players will leave the club at the end of the season as reorganising begins ahead of the new campaign. Experienced defender Michael Smith, winger Gary Mackay-Steven and third-choice goalkeeper Ross Stewart are all moving on when their contracts expire.
Smith has been the epitome of consistency throughout his six-year stay in Gorgie and performed to a high standard in more than 200 appearances. Mackay-Steven has missed much of this season with injury and is now preparing for pastures new after two and a half years at Hearts. Stewart has been back-up to keepers Craig Gordon and Zander Clark and is set to move on.
The Tynecastle sporting director Joe Savage praised the contribution of all three after they helped Hearts fight back into the Premiership after a controversially enforced relegation in 2020.
“All three of these guys have played a part in helping this club to return to the top end of Scottish football,” Savage told the club website. “Michael’s performances saw him become a real fans’ favourite and the way he went about his business meant that he was someone that the younger players looked up to.
“Ross came in to bolster the goalkeeping department, working with international-standard goalkeepers, and never let us down when he got the opportunity to take the gloves.
“Gary was part of our promotion-winning team and helped us to secure third place last season and with it group stage European football, and he’s been desperately unlucky with injuries this term.
“We thank all three for their services to Hearts and wish them well in the future.”
Interim Hearts manager Steven Naismith was a team-mate of all three players before retiring himself in summer 2021. He is now in charge of the first team at least until the summer. “All three of them have been fantastic to work with since I came into the first-team scene,” said Naismith.
“They’re all at different stages of their careers and have faced different challenges this season, but they’ve always given nothing less than 100 per cent and they should be proud to be part of this club’s history. I wish them and their families nothing but success in the future.”