Ryan Edwards Hearts exit: Craig Levein explains why midfielder is allowed to leave

Craig Levein praised Ryan Edwards as he explained why he will allow the Australian midfielder to leave Hearts.

Hearts' Ryan Edwards is on the brink of joining Burton Albion. Pic: SNS
Hearts' Ryan Edwards is on the brink of joining Burton Albion. Pic: SNS

The energetic 25-year-old is poised to join Burton Albion less than two months after scoring in the Scottish Cup final defeat by Celtic.

After a difficult first season at Hearts in which he only forced his way into the picture in the closing few weeks, Edwards craved more regular action this term.

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Levein, however, has a plethora of attack-minded midfielders this season, including Jamie Walker, Steven Naismith, Connor Smith and Sean Clare, and was in no position to guarantee the Aussie the game time he desires.

“He’s a great boy and he works very, very hard,” Levein said. “We used him quite a lot towards the end of the season in games where we were away from home, on bigger pitches and weren’t going to have so much of the ball. His athleticism was really useful but in a home match, where we have more of the possession, generally I’ll be using other players.

We’ve got more attacking players this season than we had last season so he just couldn’t force his way into the team on a regular basis.

“His view on that was ‘fine, but I want to play’, which I get, so I’m quite happy for him to leave. I like having conversations with people who are honest and say ‘look, I don’t want to cause you any trouble, but I want to play.’ We’ll get quite a hefty sell-on and he gets to play, which is important for him.”

Soon after signing for Hearts last summer, Edwards was loaned to St Mirren for the first half of last season. After returning in January, he had to wait until late April to make his first competitive appearance before forcing his way into the starting line-up for the Scottish Cup final.

“He was great for us - he did his work every single day,” said Levein. “He came back from St Mirren in January and didn’t play until April but every single day in training he worked his backside off, and that’s partly what got him into the squad towards the end of the season. I completely understand his position in wanting to play.”