BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Igor Rossi has thanked Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson for showing faith in him after extending his contract with the Tynecastle club until May 2017.
Rossi, 26, arrived in the summer from Portuguese side Martimo and, despite initially being brought in as back-up to Blazej Augustyn and Alim Ozturk, has been an ever-present in the Scottish Premiership.
The Brazilian defender, who emerged through the ranks with Internacional in his homeland, has made 19 appearances for the Gorgie outfit this season, scoring his only goal against Aberdeen in September.
Despite the impact made by the likes of Juanma Delgado, Augustyn and Arnaud Djoum, Neilson stated at the weekend that Rossi was the pick of his summer signings, describing the no-nonsense stopper as “outstanding”.
And Rossi believes there is even more to come as the Jambos challenge towards the summit of the top-flight.
He said: “I’m very happy to have signed a new contract. The manager has shown great faith in me and I’m delighted that he wants to keep me.
“The team has played well so far this season and I’m happy to be getting game time, but I know we can get even better.”
Hearts fully expect the impressive Djoum, who is contracted until January, to be the next player to formally extend his stay, with an 18-month deal already verbally agreed.
Meanwhile, there was a further boost for Hearts as club captain Alim Ozturk returned to action following more than two months on the sidelines.
The 22-year-old, who belied his age to succeed Danny Wilson as skipper in the summer, has been absent since September 23 after undergoing surgery on a troublesome hernia complaint.
He returned to training last week as Neilson attempts to nurse him back to full fitness.
And Ozturk notched up a considerable milestone in his comeback on Monday evening when he entered the fray as a second-half substitute for Hearts development side against their Dundee counterparts.
The classy Turk strolled through the final 30 minutes of a 3-0 win for the Wee Jambos and is expected to come into contention for a top-team return by the end of the month.