BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JON McLAUGHLIN insists he has not ruled out extending his stay at Tynecastle and reckons starring for Hearts could be his springboard to the Scotland side.
Jambos boss Craig Levein has confessed he faces a fight to hold on to the 30-year-old, whose current deal expires at the end of the season, following enquiries from several clubs south of the border that boast superior spending power.
However, McLaughlin is adamant he has not made any decision regarding his future as he weighs up what is best for his family, finances and security as he approaches the tail end of his career.
The former Burton Albion and Bradford stopper underlined his importance to Hearts on Saturday with a man-of-the match showing against St Johnstone, ensuring a goal from David Milinkovic was enough to secure a smash-and-grab 1-0 win for the hosts.
“The club have made it clear they want me to stay and to feel wanted by your club is all you can really ask,” said McLaughlin. “We have had some discussions and have certainly not said anything one way or the other. Myself and my family are really enjoying ourselves up here.
“It is my home town and there is a lot for us here. It is a brilliant club to play for and it is ticking a lot of boxes. But, with the way of the world in football, there are other things that need to be sorted.
“With the contract I’m on at the moment, the club were looking to do an extension rather than offer an improved new deal. There is not quite enough for me to jump on extending a deal. That is where we stand at the moment – but you don’t always come to an agreement straight away.
“That doesn’t mean any kind of deal is dead or I don’t want to be here. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Money is not the only thing. You have a lot of factors to think about. When you get to my age you start to think how many contract you have left and what people can offer you and your family. Sometimes you just have to play the waiting game a bit and things will fall into place.”
McLaughlin’s reputation in Scotland has soared since he returned to the city of his birth, recently setting a Hearts clean sheet record by registering nine successive shutouts.
And McLaughlin is hopeful that his form will catch the eye of the new Scotland boss, whoever that might be, ahead of this summer’s controversial fixtures against Peru and Mexico.
“I’ve got no holidays booked and I’ve got all my jabs. If no-one else fancies it, I’d be up for it,” laughed McLaughlin. “That’s the pinnacle. If you can make it into international squads, that would be absolutely incredible.
“Since I’ve come here, that’s something that’s been brought up a lot more than when I was down south. So, of course, that’s something that adds into my decision as well. There are places you could go where that would start to fade away again. But up here, you are right in the epicentre of it all.”