BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS have confirmed the exit of six players as Ian Cathro’s overhaul of the squad at Tynecastle begins in earnest.
As expected, Greek duo Tasos Avlonitis and Alexandros Tziolis will depart the club when their short-term deals expire next month, with the latter attracting interest from the French top flight and elsewhere in Europe.
Andraz Struna, one of the picks of Cathro’s nine January arrivals, has rejected the opportunity to remain in Gorgie and will also seek pastures new.
The 28-year-old made 13 appearances for the Jambos, scoring one goal against Partick Thistle and regaining his place in the Slovenia set-up for their recent fixture against Scotland.
The capital club had been keen to hold on to the experienced right-back, with Cathro stating in March that “Andraz is a player we feel good about and we’ll be having conversations with him”, however terms could not be agreed.
Lennard Sowah is to be released after failing to do enough in his 11 appearances to win an extended deal at Hearts, while Dylan Bikey and former Barcelona youngster Moha Choulay will also leave the club, with Choulay returning to parent club Stoke City.
The six outgoing players adds to the departures of Faycal Rherras, who was released by mutual consent a fortnight ago, and Billy King, who has agreed a pre-contract at Dundee United.
Meanwhile, Hearts star Arnaud Djoum could get a summer break of just 13 days after being called up to the Cameroon squad
The Indomitable Lions take on Morocco in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on June 10, before facing Columbia in a friendly on June 13. They will then jet off to the Confederations Cup in Russia as Djoum chases more international glory.
Cameroon will face Australia, Chile and reigning World champions Germany in Group B, with the tournament running from June 17 until July 2.
The Betfred Cup is due to kick off the SPFL campaign on July 15, leaving Djoum facing the prospect of a hugely curtailed close season. It is likely Cathro will consider affording the eight-times capped playmaker an extended break.
Djoum helped Cameroon claim the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon in February, starting every match from the knock-out phase onwards, including their historic triumph over Egypt in the final.