Just 12 Men
Will Paulo Sergio have much say in which players he can hang onto?
Hearts have one of the biggest squads in Scottish football and have at least twelve first-team players whose contracts end between now and June. The decisions on who will stay and who will be allowed to wither on the vine of a contract which will not be renewed may involve manager Paulo Sergio and then again may not. In any other club you would expect the manager to have the final say. However, Hearts are not your average run-of-the-mill club. They have a very hands-on owner in Vladimir Romanov andno doubt he will be calling the tune. Rudi Skacel and Janos Balogh become free agents in January, with Marian Kello, Suso, Eggert Jonsson, Kevin Kyle, Stephen Elliott, Ryan Stevenson, David Obua, Calum Elliot, Gary Glen and Jamie MacDonald all out of contract in June. Having all three first-team goalkeepers approaching the end of their agreements at the same time is not the best planned set of contracts agreed. The club will want to make decisions in this area a priority. Kello is considered to be a prize asset at Tynecastle, with MacDonald a reliable back-up and Balogh an experienced third choice. If no new deals are in place by January, they will be able to speak to other clubs in the new year. I expect Hearts must be keen to avoid any of their established players being lured elsewhere. Meanwhile, MacDonald is eager to make up for being involved in Sunday's defeat by St Johnstone by beating Celtic this weekend. Although he believes mistakes must be eradicated first. The goalkeeper said: "Obviously nobody goes out on a Saturday or Sunday and tries to make a mistake, but these things happen at times. Unfortunately, we seem to be having a few of these right now and it's something we need to work on and smarten up over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully on Sunday we can rectify things and put in a good performance. It's difficult when you play against Rangers or Celtic but we have them at Tynecastle and our home form is pretty good."
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