Robbie Neilson realistic about prospect of holding on to Callum Paterson in January



HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson admits he will be powerless to hold onto Scotland international Callum Paterson in January if potential suitors flash the cash.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a sensational campaign for the Jambos, making 13 appearances, winning five full caps and emerging as the club’s top scorer with six goals.

The capital club managed to fend off interest in the player from Wigan Athletic in August, snubbing a £700,000 bid, and remain keen to hold on to their star man until his contract expires in the summer.

Robbie Neilson RiccartonHowever, with Paterson’s reputation soaring, Neilson knows he could be fighting a losing battle when the transfer window re-opens.

“I’d like to hold on to Callum until the end of the season, but this is Scottish football,” Neilson acknowledged. “If a big bid comes in then it would be considered.

“Whether for Callum or any other player, that has to be the case.

“He has been doing well, he’s an international player and the club’s top goalscorer – not like me when I was a right-back – so we shall see.

“However, the hope is we can keep him until the end of the season and then go from there.”

Of Paterson’s omission from the Scotland starting line-up which suffered a 3-0 defeat against England, he added: “I’m sure Callum would have been a bit disappointed but accepted it.

“The main thing is that he is involved in the national team and he has a very bright future.”

Paterson, however, is assured his place in the Hearts side when they travel to face Hamilton tomorrow evening seeking to halt a run of three matches without a win.

“Hamilton are a hard-working team, with a way of playing and they know what they are doing,” said Neilson. “They make it very tough for teams to go there and play and we understand what to expect.

“Martin [Canning] has done a good job there – you see how tight it is, a couple of wins and they could be in the top six.”