BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson is adamant Osman Sow is content at Tynecastle as the club prepare to step up contract talks with their star striker.
The former Crystal Palace front-man, who bagged 12 goals in the Championship last season despite a three-month injury lay-off, has adjusted admirably to the step-up to the top-flight.
The 25-year-old, who has been deployed from a wide role at times this term, has still found the net eight times, including his remarkable 35-yard wonder-goal against Motherwell in Hearts’ last outing.
With Sow’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, he will be able to talk to potential suitors next month – and Neilson admits his form will have attracted plenty of admirers.
Nevertheless, the Hearts gaffer is calm regarding the Jambos’ efforts to extend his deal.
Neilson said: “Osman has done great, he came in last season and scored a lot of goals. There was always a doubt with all the players that when you go up to the top flight if they can adapt – and he has adapted well.
“He has scored goals, good performances so he’s someone we’d like to get tied up. But these things take time.
“I’m sure other clubs will have [noticed his form], it’s the same with all our players. Players do well and they attract interest, that’s the whole point of the club.
“Players will come in, do well, and we either keep them or we don’t keep them and they move on to bigger and better things. But I think Os is happy here and we’re happy with him so it’s something we hope we can get moving.”
Meanwhile, Alim Ozturk could come into contention for Saturday’s trip to Pittodrie after recovering from surgery to cure a persistent hernia complaint.
The Hearts skipper played 30 minutes for the Jambos’ development squad last week and Neilson was considering handing him a place on the bench against Inverness on Saturday prior to the fixture’s postponement.
Should he emerge unscathed from another week’s training, he will provide further defensive options for Neilson ahead of their crucial visit to the Granite City.
However, luckless striker Soufian El Hassnaoui will be absent until 2016 as he attempts to finally find full fitness.
The rangy Dutch-Moroccan suffered cruciate ligament damage during the Jambos’ 1-0 defeat against Preston in July, curtailing what had been a heartening pre-season campaign.
It was a hammer-blow for El Hassnaoui, whose maiden season at Tynecastle was hampered by fitness struggles. He made just 10 starts following his arrival from Sparta Rotterdam last summer as he battled groin and ankle complaints.
And, when there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel last month he endured a setback by succumbing to a groin injury.
The Hearts boss added: “El Hassnaoui is starting to come back but it’s about building him slowly. We’ll be looking to the January window to get him back.”