Livingston goalkeeper Liam Kelly has backed Craig Halkett be a success at Hearts after claiming he is one of the best central defenders in the Premiership.
Halkett is poised to sign a pre-contract with the Tynecastle outfit in the coming days after being a stand-out for the West Lothian outfit in their remarkable rise from League One to the top-flight in just over two years.
Incredibly, the reliable Halkett has played in all 3,150 minutes of Livingston’s 35 games this season and has also chipped in with five goals.
It is in defence where Kelly appreciates former Rangers team-mate Halkett’s presence, with Gary Holt’s side racking up some 15 clean sheets in all competition.
And the shot-stopper is in no doubt that Halkett has merited a move away from the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Speaking ahead of today’s trip to Aberdeen, Kelly said: “As the captain he brings so much but if he does move on then he’s absolutely deserved it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more teams than just Hearts. I don’t know the details of it but he’s a player who can play anywhere in this country.
“I’ve not played against a central defender who I would take over Craig.
“Every attribute you want he’s got it, and you feel so secure with him in front of you so whoever gets him will have got a great scoop, and maybe if we can keep him then it will be great for us.
“I wouldn’t think he’d have any problems at Hearts because in the three league games against them they’ve not scored so it just shows the level he’s at.
“He’s managed to keep their strikers quiet and that’s not an easy thing to do.
“He’ll be more than alright at any team in the country and I’m not being biased, I just see it purely from a football point of view. He’s a top player.”
Asked about Halkett’s attributes, he added: “He brings a calmness. What I notice when I’m playing behind him is nothing is ever last gasp with Craig, he looks like he’s in control of every situation on the pitch and obviously his pace gives him that ability.
“You rarely ever see someone run past him for pace and there’s a lot of quick players in our league.”
Livingston manager Holt, meanwhile, insists Halkett will continue to give his all for the club between now and the end of the season.
He said: “He’s the captain of the club and we think highly of him but footballer’s move on.
“He’s professional and that’s the good thing about him and while he’s here until the end of the season I’m sure he will continue to be professional. And then we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.
“Craig’s grown with the club and I think they’ve been a good fit, he’s had the time to grow and play and learn.
“You don’t get that at other places and I think that’s helped Craig’s career as much as Craig has helped us.
“It’s been a marriage well made and it’s one of those things, people leave and you deal with it and move on.”