Goalkeeper Marian Kello has risked the full wrath of Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov after speaking out over his omission from the team.
Kello missed Sunday's 1-1 William Hill Scottish Cup draw with St Johnstone and is set to remain unavailable for selection for Wednesday night's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Celtic after clashing with the Hearts board over his refusal to move to Austria Vienna on transfer deadline day.
With the media assembled for a pre-match press conference ahead of the Celtic fixture, Kello opted to hold an impromptu briefing of his own to tell his side of the story. Kello, who is out of contract at the end of the season, said: "I've been reading in the papers and everywhere that I'm not committed to the club, which for me is totally nonsense."
Asked if he feared reprisals for speaking out, the 29-year-old Slovakia international said: "I had to say something, because I've seen all the mess that is in the papers. I don't agree with it, so I needed to say how things are. They (the Hearts board) might do something, I don't know. I will protect myself."
Hearts missed out on 100,000 euros (£83,000) after Kello rejected a move to Austria as he was unhappy at the 18-month contract offered and being coerced into the move. Kello added: "I want to play for Hearts. They said they don't want me because next season, because of the money problem, they want to work with the youngsters.
"The club have signed two young keepers, I've been told. I don't figure in the future of the club. I was not offered a new contract. They forced me to go and they were saying 'If you don't go, you might not play'.
"Last time we discussed the situation it was January 31 and after that it was just the manager (Paulo Sergio) who talked to them, to try to convince them to let me play."
Kello had missed training last week with a back complaint but warmed up for the Saints match and was fit to play.
"I didn't train on Thursday or Friday because of my back, but that wasn't the issue," Kello added. "If I have a chance to play, I will play. I will play 100% because it was the club who gave me the chance to be here, to improve and to get into the (Slovakia) national team.
"I've been here for three and a half years. I've tried to be honest and fight for the club and they just try to put me down all the time. I don't know why. I try always my best for the club."