Hearts boss gives update on contract talks for key pair after Stephen Kingsley pens new deal

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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson admits he is hopeful of tying down Josh Ginnelly and Andy Irving on new deals after extending Stephen Kingsley’s contract for a further 18-months.

Left-back Kingsley, who joined in October from Hull City, yesterday agreed fresh terms that will keep him at Tynecastle until summer 2022 after shining in this season’s Championship title push.

Highly-rated midfielder Irving’s agent has returned with a counter offer to the club as Hearts attempt to secure the 20-year-old on a long-term deal.

Stephen Kingsley has joined Hearts following a spell at Hull City | Hearts news
Kingsley has signed a new 18-month deal (Pic: Hearts TV)

Neilson is also keen to land fleet-footed winger Ginnelly, who is on loan from Preston until the end of the season, on permanent terms.

On Kingsley, Neilson, who refused to elaborate on Hearts’ interest in Walsall striker Elijah Adebayo, said: “We’re delighted to get him on board for another 18 months. 

“We’ve been speaking to him for a couple of weeks about trying to extend this. It brings a bit of stability for him and for ourselves.

“Stephen is a top quality player and has made a real impact since joining the squad.”

Irving has become a key cog in the Hearts midfield this season and Neilson has already tipped the youngster to have a bright future.

Regarding contract talks, Neilson added: “We’ve offered Andy a contract. 

“He’s come back, there’s been a counter offer so we’ll go back again. We’d like to try and get that over the line. 

“We’ve been talking for a number of weeks. Andy has been playing very well for us and we’d like to try and get him here for as long as possible.”

Ginnelly has been restricted to only two Championship starts in a total of eight appearances after tearing a thigh muscle in October before then being laid low by Covid-19.

And even though the 23-year-old’s recent injury record does not make for good reading, Neilson, whose side host Raith Rovers tomorrow, insists Ginnelly is worth taking a gamble on.

He added: “We’ve just started speaking to his agent. We will continue talking to try and get things moving.

“He’s got blistering pace, which a lot of teams in Scotland can’t handle. 

“Over the last 18 months he has struggled with niggling injuries. 

“We believe with the sports science and medical staff here we can give him the best opportunity to play every week. 

“We just want to get him on the pitch on a Saturday now.

“He is enjoying his time at the club and he likes it here. He likes the stadium and the training facilities. He hasn’t experienced a full Tynecastle yet, which he is desperate to do.

“I think both parties are keen to get something done so I don’t see there being too many issues on it.”

Neilson, meanwhile, has revealed that Jamie Brandon’s season is over after the versatile defender ruptured his knee cruciate ligament in a recent bounce game.