BY ALAN TEMPLE in DUBLIN
IAN CATHRO insists he is ready to “draw a line” under the Jamie Walker saga as the winger prepares to return to action for Hearts.
The 24-year-old missed the Jambos’ first pre-season friendly against Livingston on Saturday with a slight knock, but is likely to be involved against St Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin on Wednesday.
It will be Walker’s first appearance since Hearts director of football Craig Levein claimed the player was keen to leave Hearts after rejecting a new contract, and the subsequent rejection of two bids from Rangers.
And head coach Cathro reckons Walker, who has one year left to run on his deal, remains a pivotal part of his places and will relish the opportunity to focus on football.
“I would hope we can draw a line under it,” said Cathro. “Partly for us, partly for Jamie. It ended up being a lot of stress coming from a number of directions around him.
“My priority was to be able to support him and make sure he felt comfortable here – which he does. He is part of the group and training as normal. There is no situation. Jamie Walker, focused, training well and working hard, playing in our team is a valuable thing.
“There is no problem going forward. Our best players will play, those players who are working hard, focused and training well will play. Simple. Plain and simple.”
Meanwhile, it is understood Hearts have received no official approach for in-demand midfielder Arnaud Djoum.
Reports emanating from Africa yesterday suggested that Caen, Real Betis and Hertha Berlin were all ready to fight it out for the Cameroon internationalist, who has previously expressed his desire to join one of Europe’s most prestigious leagues.
Sources at the Tynecastle club are braced for interest in the player, but were last night adamant that none of Djoum’s suitors have submitted a bid.
The 28-year-old is currently enjoying an extended summer break following his exertions at the Confederations Cup and is due to return to training on July 17.