Craig Levein hails Craig Halkett after Hearts agree to sign the Livingston captain


CRAIG LEVEIN insists Tynecastle is the perfect place for Craig Halkett to reach his potential after Hearts confirmed the signing of Livingston’s captain on a three-year deal.

The Jambos fought off interest from south of the border to snap up the promising defender on a pre-contract, ending Livi’s hopes of holding on to their inspirational skipper.

Halkett, 23, has been a mainstay in the Lions’ first season back in the top-flight since 2006, making 36 appearances and helping Gary Holt’s men rack up 15 clean sheets to remain well clear of the drop-zone.

Halkett will officially make the switch to Gorgie in June and Levein has no doubt he has made a wise career move.

Levein told Hearts’ official website: “I’m delighted that Craig has committed to signing for Hearts. He’s a talented player and, at 23-years-old, is at an age where he can continue to develop and progress.

“This club is the right place for him to do so and I look forward to welcoming him in the summer.”

Halkett, capped for Scotland at under-19 level, emerged through the youth ranks at Rangers but failed to make the grade at Ibrox, being farmed out to Berwick and Clyde to earn his stripes.

He initially joined Livingston on loan in January 2016 before making the move permanent that summer. He has gone on to represent the Lions 144 times, scoring 15 goals and playing a pivotal part in their rise from League 1 to the Premiership.

Speaking recently, Livi boss Gary Holt said: “Craig is the captain of the club and we think highly of him but footballers move on.

“He’s professional and that’s the good thing about him. I’m sure he will continue to be professional.

“Craig’s grown with the club and I think we’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 has 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.

“I can offer players what we can offer and if they think they can get better elsewhere and they think the grass is greener, I’ll shake their hand, say ‘thanks very much’ and move on.”

The confirmation of Halkett’s departure underlines the onerous task Holt will have next term as he seeks to rebuild Livingston’s hugely impressive defensive unit. Declan Gallagher, also out of contract this summer, is expected to join Motherwell.

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