Sam Nicholson is close to agreeing a new contract with Hearts after talks with Tynecastle officials.
The 21-year-old will not play until January following knee surgery, by which time his long-term future could be finalised.
Nicholson’s current contract expires at the end of the season but discussions between Hearts, the player and his representatives have been positive. Head coach Robbie Neilson believes an agreement could happen in the near future.
“We have been talking and I don’t think we are too far away,” he said. “Sam has his head screwed on and his parents and agent realise that he needs to try and stay here and develop before he moves to England.”
Callum Paterson, Nicholson’s team-mate, is also out of contract next summer but will not sign a new deal. He sees his future in England.
“Callum is at a different stage of his career to Sam,” admitted Neilson. “Callum has played 150 games, is a full Scotland international and is 6ft 3in. He is physically ready to go and move. Sam is not quite there yet and he has another year to develop.”
Ahead of Hearts’ league meeting with St Johnstone at Tynecastle tomorrow, Neilson admitted clubs in England will also be monitoring the Perth club’s manager, Tommy Wright.
The Northern Irishman has consistently kept St Johnstone in the top half of the Scottish Premiership during his three years in charge. Managing finances and keeping an experienced squad together will have earned him attention south of the Border, according to Neilson.
“Tommy has done very well and I am sure there are teams looking at what he has achieved. I am sure there are teams having a think about taking him down south. The time has be right in football.
“You have to be doing well and it has to be the right club at the right time with the right style of football and the right chairman to work with.
“St Johnstone are an example of a team that Tommy has built over the past five or six years and there is continuity there.
“They have key players like Steven Anderson, Murray Davidson, Steven MacLean, Chris Millar, who have all been there for a long time and they all know what they are doing and it becomes second nature to them.
“St Johnstone are a good example of how, if you keep a group of players together, you can achieve.”