Robbie Neilson issues Liam Boyce not for sale stance and as Hearts boss plays down Lawrence Shankland links

Robbie Neilson issues Liam Boyce not for sale stance and as Hearts boss plays down Lawrence Shankland links
Robbie Neilson issues Liam Boyce not for sale stance and as Hearts boss plays down Lawrence Shankland links

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson admits he has no plans to sell Liam Boyce and has played down a move for Scotland international Lawrence Shankland.

Boyce - the Jambos’ top scorer last season with 16 goals - has been linked with a move to Premiership rivals Aberdeen as he approaches the final year of his contract.

However, Neilson is adamant that the Northern Ireland marksman is going nowhere - especially as he is the only recognised striker at the club as things stand.

And on the day Belgian outfit Beerschot said Shankland was not for sale, Neilson claimed that Hearts had not made a move for the 26-year-old Scotland cap.

Neilson, who takes his squad to the south of Spain today for a week-long training camp, said: “The Boycie one was strange! I saw that the other day. There's been no contact between clubs or anything.

“Boyce’s been our top goalscorer the two years I've been here. I don’t want to lose him and I don’t expect to.

“I don't know where it’s come from, but that's what happens at this time of the season when there's not a lot happening in the transfer market.

"He's my only striker as well! I said that when I spoke to him the other day.

“We need to just deal with it. He's happy and delighted to be here. "He's got European football, has been the top goalscorer the last couple of years and played just about every game. He's a big player for us.”

On Shankland, a player he worked with during his time as Dundee United boss, Neilson said: “There is nothing, although there has been a lot of talk about it. I think it's this time of year.

"There is nothing between the clubs so we'll wait and see.

“I know Shanks really well but at this moment there is nothing happening.

"If that changes then we will see, but I don't think it will.”

Neilson, meanwhile, insists Hearts believe they have no case to answer over Dundee United’s claim that they would be due compensation for Lewis Neilson.

The versatile defender signed a three-year deal at Tynecastle earlier this month on what Hearts described as a ‘free transfer’ from United, a club he had been at for nine years.

The case looks set to be settled by a tribunal after United sporting director Tony Asghar said the Tayside outfit were ‘very confident’ that they would be due a fee.

Neilson said: “We'll wait and see. We're pretty confident about the things that happened and the process of it.

“It's up to United to say what they think about it. We've heard nothing from the SFA about it all, so as far as we're concerned, we've done everything above board.”

Neilson has also signed Australia defender Kye Rowles and winger Alan Forrest and admits he is closing in on Alex Cochrane and Jorge Grant.

Cochrane looks set to complete a permanent switch after impressing on loan from Brighton last season, while attacking midfielder Grant has agreed terms in a move from Peterborough.

Hearts are now trying to thrash out fees with their respective clubs.

Neilson added: “We are still working away with Brighton so we will hopefully get that over the line, maybe in a few days' time.

“Grant from Peterborough is still a wee bit back and forward but, again, we are quite far down the line with it.

"Both players are desperate to come here, it's just a case of getting this sorted out in the background. These things always take longer than you would hope.

"I've known Jorge for a number of years from when I was down south. I saw him with different clubs.

“When he was at Nottingham Forest, I knew Mark Warburton and David Weir, who had him there. “He moved to Notts County so I've always had an eye on him.”

Hearts, meanwhile, have former Celtic striker Jaden Ferguson on trial with a view to recruiting the 18-year-old for their B team.