ROBBIE NEILSON has confirmed that Craig Wighton’s opportunities for the remainder of this season are likely to be limited after the striker penned a pre-contract with Dunfermline.
However, the Hearts boss insists the Fifers’ unwillingness to pay a fee for the ex-Dundee favourite ensured there was no chance of him making the switch in January.
Wighton, 23, has scored seven goals in 15 games for the Jambos this term and will remain part of the first-team group and available for selection.
But Neilson has emphasised that he must focus on players who are guaranteed to be at the club beyond the summer.
He said: “Craig will still be training and working away here but we’ve got [Liam] Boyce and [Armand] Gnanduillet in there. We’ve got other guys who will be here longer term.
“At this moment in time Craig is still a first-team player but he will sign with Dunfermline and start to prepare for next season.
“We just felt it was time for him to go and get consistent game time.”
Despite Wighton’s impending role as a bit-part player, Neilson gave short shrift to the notion of Hearts allowing him to join the Pars — arguably their prime title rivals — early.
Neilson added: “If there was a deal to be done and they [Dunfermline] wanted to pay a fee for him, then we would have been more than happy to do that.
“But Craig has scored a number of goals and we aren’t going to let a guy who has scored a number of goals just walk out on a free.”