Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has said “no player is bigger than the club” following John Souttar’s pre-contract agreement with Rangers.
The 25-year-old Scotland defender will join Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men in the summer after his contract at the Tynecastle club expires, in a move which Neilson says he can “understand the frustrations of fans”.
However, Neilson revealed he will still consider Souttar for selection while he remains at Tynecastle.
Neilson said: “It’s part and parcel of football to be honest, that’s what happens. We offered John a contract, he decided to turn it down, and the way the Bosman rule works nowadays players can speak to other people. So, we knew he was speaking to clubs and he’s decided to go somewhere else.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed he’s decided to do that, but at the end of the day the club is and always will be bigger than one player.
“No player is bigger than the club. No player will ever be bigger than the club.
“I understand the frustrations of fans, you know there is a disappointment there, but at the end of the day it’s about winning tomorrow night. It’s about taking this club forward and trying to get European football, which will take us to the next level again.
“The objective is to get European Football, so we have to utilise the squad and play our best players, and John is one of our best players.
“I’ve spoken to John, he understands the situation and he’s big enough and old enough that he has to make sure his heads right, and he’s reassured us that he will give 100% in training, which he has done, and 100% if he’s selected.”
Neilson also confirmed that the club has been considering options in the transfer window, following the announcement that Souttar would be making his way to Ibrox in the summer.
He added: “When we were speaking to John and we knew that he wasn’t going to sign, we knew that we were going to have to recruit in the summer.
“So it’s something that we have been actively looking at. Whether we need to bring that forward or not, we’ll have to wait and see, but that’s the recruitment departments area to focus on.”