Robbie Neilson talks Craig Wighton exit, new arrivals & Andy Irving deal

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ROBBIE NEILSON has revealed that Craig Wighton is in talks with several other clubs as he edges closer to a Hearts exit, while the Jambos boss is hopeful of securing further reinforcements before the closure of the transfer window.

Wighton, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has slipped further down the pecking order following the capture of towering French attacker Armand Gnanduillet.

With his playing time likely to be limited, Neilson will allow the former Dundee man to leave this month if he can find the right suitor. Arbroath, when Wighton scored three goals in five games last month, are among the sides interested.

Craig Wighton celebrates his first Jambos hat-trick | Hearts news
Wighton walked away with the match ball against Raith last year (Pic: Twitter, @jamtarts)

“I had a chat with Craig and, with his contract is up in the summer, we’ve allowed him to speak to some clubs,” said Neilson. “He wants that wee bit of security and to see what’s out there.

“He doesn’t want to go into the summer market facing the unknown.

“We’ll wait and see, and if he can get something sorted then he’ll go with our best wishes. If not, he’ll stay with the group because he has been a key member of the squad this season.”

The January arrivals of Gnanduillet, who notched a double on his debut against Raith Rovers in midweek, and Gary Mackay-Steven have notably bolstered Hearts options as they seek to claim the Championship title and build for the Premiership.

However, Neilson is hopeful that there is more to come prior to next Monday’s deadline.

“There are still a couple of areas I would like to strengthen in and I hope for a few ins and a few outs in the coming days,” he continued. “We’ll see how that goes.

“The squad is in good knick but you always want the squad to be in a better place than when you entered the window.

“At the moment we’ve brought in Gnanduillet and Gary Mackay-Steven and we want to bolster that.”

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson speaks to media after Dundee loss | Hearts news
Hearts are set to welcome Dunfermline on Saturday

The other pressing priority for Neilson is the future of in-form midfielder Andy Irving. The classy midfielder’s deal expires in June and he is yet to sign a knew deal.

“We have offered Andy a contract we think is really good,” emphasised the Hearts head coach. “We are just waiting to hear back regarding his interest in it, or whether he is going to counter offer.

TIMESCALE

“There’s no timescale, my hope is Andy focuses, as he has been doing recently, on his work on the pitch and we deal with his agent.

“For a young kid he’s quite level headed and strong minded, he understands the situation, we’ve given him a good offer and he is in discussions and we’ll see where it goes.”

Meanwhile, Neilson, who described Saturday’s clash with Dunfermline as ‘a six-pointer’, confirmed that Josh Ginnelly is unlikely to feature this weekend as he awaits a scan on the hamstring injury he suffered against Raith.