BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS head coach Ian Cathro has revealed that he has all but given up hope of convincing Scotland star Callum Paterson to sign a new deal at Tynecastle.
The Gorgie outfit yesterday tied up Jack Hamilton, John Souttar and Rory Currie until the summer of 2020, however their injured talisman now appears destined to leave the club when his current contract expires.
Paterson, 22, sustained cruciate knee ligament damage in December and is not expected to return to full fitness until October.
With his deal set to run out in the summer, the promising right-back – who was interesting the likes of Derby and West Ham prior to his injury – looks to have played his last game for Hearts after Cathro confirmed that Paterson has intimated a desire to leave.
He explained: “I think that [new contract] is an unlikely situation. Callum has been very honest in his dialogue with the club, even before I became involved.
“It probably is the point – and I respect his view on that – for him to take the next step in his career.
“We have suffered the situation we have suffered. It’s a horrible situation for him. It was a moment where most likely the offer was going to be there for him to move and take that next challenge in his career.
“That’s still what he wants to do. I respect that. It’s been an honest dialogue throughout.
“He cares a lot about the people here and to a massive degree for this club. There’s nothing but understanding and respect from both sides. He’s a guy I have a hell of a lot of time for and will support and speak to. We will just manage the situation as best we can.”
The Jambos will also still be due a development fee just shy of £400,000 for any club that signs Paterson – even after he has left the club.
Cathro continued: “The first thing that we need to do is support his recovery and make sure the rehab’s right. He will be a Hearts player until the point where he has fully recovered.
“It’s a duty of care, 100 per cent. That’s the same for everyone. It is also out of massive respect to Callum for the impact and influence that he has had on the team over a period of time.”
While Paterson eyes pastures new, Cathro was visibly buoyed by securing the signatures of Hamilton, Souttar and Currie, lauding the talented trio and insisting the next three and a half years will define their careers.
“I’m pleased. It was a straight-forward process and the right decision for everyone,” he continued. “They see positive things in their futures here, as do we for them. It is a good situation for everyone.
“What they do in the period they are committed to Hearts for will play a big part in how they push forward and how we help them, which is part of our job that we sometimes forget. We want to help players improve and grow.”
Hearts travel to Aberdeen this afternoon seeking to eat into a 14-point chasm between the sides and, in doing so, derail a run of eight successive wins at Pittodrie for the Dons.
He added: “We look to go and deliver a strong performance. I have very strong confidence and belief in our group that if we do the things that we want to do, we can win any game in this league.”