BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts will offer Callum Paterson a new contract after Robbie Neilson insisted that staying at Tynecastle is the player’s best chance of winning a move directly to the English Premier League.
The 21-year-old has been a standout performer for the Jambos this term, impressing with his physicality, goal-threat and much-improved defensive nous.
Amid a plethora of young talent in Gorgie, including the likes of Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and Billy King, Neilson firmly believes Paterson is the most capable of moving south of the border and making an impact.
But he has urged the former Scotland under-21 international to extend his stay in the capital, work his way into the senior national side and bypass the English Championship when he ultimately does depart the club.
With 18 months left on his current deal, Neilson will open talks with the full-back once Hearts’ immediate priority of the January transfer window has passed.
Neilson said: “Callum has got another 18 months, so extending that is something we will look at, possibly when the window is shut. We would like to get it tied up.
“He is the one, for me, who is ready to step down there – but at the moment, he would probably be looking at the Championship. If he stays a bit longer and develops as a defender then his next step could be straight to the Premiership.
“I think he should stay until he is ready to go to the top level. He understands that. He is a smart boy and he knows where he wants to go.
“I think the sensible thing would be to stay and get into the national team, which I think he should be round about now. He has been involved but he hasn’t played yet so it would be good if we could get him into that.”
Meanwhile, Neilson insists there will be no hard feelings if in-demand attacker Osman Sow leaves the club at the end of the season.
The towering Swede is attracting reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Rangers, Celtic and several clubs in England after a fine campaign and is out of contract in June.
He added: “I would love to keep him, he has been a great player for us, but he is at a stage in his career that if offers come in, then it is up to him to go and take them if he wants.
“He has the opportunity to make big money, and we want to keep hold of him, as we all would with good players.
“But he took a real chance on us when he came here – he came here on trial at the start, one of the lowest paid in the squad, and took a real chance. He deserves all that he gets now. If that is a big move then I would be delighted for him.”