Hearts head coach Ian Cathro explains Jamie Walker absence & insists he can handle fans’ flak

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

IAN CATHRO insists Jamie Walker has been negatively affected by the persistent speculation over his future after axing the in-demand winger from the Hearts squad to face Dunfermline.

The 24-year-old has been the subject of three rejected bid from Rangers this summer and, with his deal due to expire next summer, he shows no sign of penning a contract extension.

Cathro believes the saga has led to a dip in the player’s performances in training and during matches, and it came to a head on Saturday. Without Walker, Hearts limped to a 2-2 draw against the Pars and crashed out of the Betfred Cup at the group stage.

The Hearts head coach said: “Jamie has been dealing with a remarkable degree of speculation and attention. Initially he dealt with it well.

“However he’s struggled to maintain his performance and focus levels with us.

“He has to understand that there are levels which have to be matched on a daily basis. If you can’t do that, you won’t have a place in the squad or the team.”

Cathro, with eight wins in 30 competitive games as Hearts boss, trudged down the tunnel to a cacophony of jeers from furious fans at full-time.

He continued: “Believe me, I’ve been I angrier stadiums before. I can understand why the fans are annoyed. It was unacceptable and we’re accountable.

“But I don’t feel any more pressure now than I have done after any other game. Just because someone shouts loudly, or there are four times as many journalists here than usual, it doesn’t make me feel any different.

“You want my reaction to the anger in the stands? I don’t have one. My work, my focus and my responsibility is to to support the players and develop them. I don’t waste time reacting to other things.”

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