BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has assured Jason Holt that the Tynecastle club will consider any fair offer for his services amid reported interest from Rangers.
The 22-year-old playmaker is out of contract after his deal expired earlier this summer, however the Jambos are due a development fee after nurturing his progress for 13 years.
Hearts could justifiably demand a substantial six-figure sum for Holt under compensation regulations, but Neilson acknowledges that he is reluctant to see a gifted youngster left “in limbo” ahead of the new season.
It is a similar situation to St Mirren youngster John McGinn, who could cost potential suitors around £250,000 and Gavin Reilly, who arrived at Hearts from Queen of the South last week after the clubs came to a settlement.
Rangers have been credited with an interest in Holt, who scored five goals in 17 outings during a loan spell at Sheffield United, and Neilson says Hearts are ready to be realistic about their valuation.
“I don’t envision him having any trouble getting another club but it’s up to us to negotiate for a development fee. That is part of football,” said Neilson. “Jason was here since he was a kid – more than 10 years – so it is important the club sees the benefits from developing a player.
“We won’t demand silly money for him, we know what the financial situation is in football and we’ll take it from there. We don’t want to leave the boy in limbo but we need to protect the development fee.
“We have to look after ourselves, which is important, but we are open to any angle clubs want to come with. It is up to whoever wants him to come and speak to us.”
A shock return to Tynecastle, however, does not appear to be on the cards for Holt, who made 70 appearances for the men in maroon.
“He has decided he doesn’t want to be here so we’ll move on,” added Neilson. “If someone doesn’t want to be here, then they won’t be here. Simple as that. We wish him all the best because he is a great kid and did well well called upon.”
Should Holt join the Gers, he would become the second player to swap Hearts for Rangers this summer following Danny Wilson’s eyebrow-raising return to Ibrox.
“Nothing surprises you in football,” he smiled. “Jason is a very good player, he did well at Sheffield United and we were hoping they would take him but it didn’t happen.
“They had a change of management that did not help matters. But he went down there and scored goals. I am sure he has had offers. It just depends on Jason and what he wants to do next.
“My focus is on Hearts and we will need to see what develops with regards to Jason.”
The Jambos, meanwhile, will kick off their pre-season preparations in earnest tomorrow evening when they face Irish outfit Bohemians in Dublin.