Hearts captain Perry Kitchen has handed head coach Ian Cathro a huge boost after putting club before country.
The midfielder has declined the chance to link up with the USA for this month’s training camp under new national team manager Bruce Arena.
Even though the international gathering includes a friendly against Serbia in San Diego, the 24-year-old made it clear to Arena that he did not want to miss Hearts’ January 22 Scottish Cup tie at Raith Rovers and the Labrdokes Premiership clash away to Celtic a week later.
He said: “Perry is a player that I was in contact with recently, I was uncertain about the schedule for Hearts and I wanted to invite him into the January camp.
“Through our conversation, I understood that Hearts have a cup competition in the third week in January then their league schedule starts at the end of January, so it wasn’t possible for Perry to come in.
“He is certainly a player we’re going to look at, he can play that defensive midfield role.”
Kitchen’s availability to Hearts will come as a boost with fellow midfielder Arnaud Djoum expected to be included in Cameroon’s final squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, which takes place in Gabon between January 14 and February 5.
Holding midfielder Kitchen has made 20 league appearances so far this season and was handed the captain’s armband by former Hearts coach Robbie Neilson in September.