BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS striker Conor Sammon concedes the high-profile capture of Kyle Lafferty has ushered him closer to the Tynecastle exit door.
The 30-year-old was one of the Jambos’ marquee signings last summer under former boss Robbie Neilson, penning a three-year deal following his release by Derby.
However, Sammon toiled for form and, following a meagre return of one goals in 19 games, he was farmed out on loan to his old stomping ground of Kilmarnock, where he saw out the campaign and found the net five times.
The Republic of Ireland was back in maroon on Saturday, entering the fray at the Tony Macaroni Arena in the second half to help Ian Cathro’s side claim a 1-0 win over Livingston in their first official pre-season friendly.
Nevertheless, barring a dramatic change in circumstances, it is likely to be a temporary reprieve for Sammon, who accepts that his future probably lies elsewhere after falling behind Lafferty, Isma Goncalves, Bjorn Johnsen, Rory Currie and the match-winner in West Lothian, Cole Stockton, in the pecking order.
Asked whether the arrival of Lafferty will make his exit more likely, Sammon said: “Yes, I would think so. The club have signed Kyle, who is obviously another good centre-forward and I’d guess that would limit my opportunities here.
“I think there is a good chance I will need to look elsewhere to get that run of games that I need at this stage of my career. I don’t want to be playing third or fourth-fiddle to anyone.
“I’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks because I’m sure there are a lot of transfers to be done, and I’m at a stage where I want to go and play games. I’ll keep training hard and keep working hard and see what comes.
“I went on loan towards the end of last season and it was brilliant for me, very enjoyable and you want to be testing yourself week-in, week-out.
“It is very frustrating when you are on the fringes of things. Time will tell where I end up.”
The situation is a source of disappointment for Sammon who, despite an underwhelming maiden season in Gorgie, remains convinced he could make an impact for the Jambos. Instead, he will seek to prove a point at his next destination.
“It’s all about the manager’s decision. He has his own thoughts, ideas and plans for this season and the future,” continued Sammon.
“It can be frustrating when you know that, given the opportunity, you can do the business, but that is part and parcel of football.
“You need to deal with these things and use it to motivate me, and kick on, if I do go elsewhere.”
Killie have been credited with a desire to bring Sammon back to Rugby Park for a third stint, with the former Derry, Wigan and Sheffield United man a positive influence on and off the pitch during their revival under Lee McCulloch in the second half of last season.
And Sammon has confirmed that, should he leave Hearts, he wants to remain north of the border.
“I’m more than happy in Scotland, my wife is from Scotland and since we’ve moved back up, I’ve felt really settled,” he continued. “I see my future in Scotland.”