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Hearts hoping to secure contract extension for Barrie McKay

Robbie Neilson says deals have been offered to two players this week.

Hearts hoping to secure contract extension for Barrie McKay SNS Group

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has confirmed that the club are working to extend the contract of Barrie McKay as he revealed that new deals have been offered to two players this week.

The 27-year-old attacker has been one of the Tynecastle side’s best performers this season since joining from Swansea in September.

McKay gave an interview last weekend in which he spoke of his contentment at Hearts and hinted that he would be open to extending his contract, which is currently due to expire at the end of next season.

Neilson joked that he had locked the on-form attacker in his office and would not let him out until he signs a new deal.

“I’ve been speaking to Barrie about it for a while,” said the manager, who is working towards extending the deals of as many of his key men as he can. “He’s been outstanding for us this season and we’re desperate to try and keep him here for a longer period.

“I’ve been speaking to a couple of players and we offered another two contracts a couple of days ago so we’ll see where we go.”

Hearts are currently going through a tough period with injuries. Beni Baningime is set to be out until late 2022 at least after suffering cruciate ligament damage, while key trio Cammy Devlin, Michael Smith and John Souttar are all in a race to be fit for the Scottish Cup semi-final against city rivals Hibernian in a fortnight.

“We’re disappointed with Beni,” said Neilson. “We’re probably looking at after the World Cup break before he’s back. The other guys we’re just pushing as hard as we can.

“John had a wee tidy-up operation so we’re hopeful we’ll get him back (before the end of the season). I don’t know if he’ll make the semi but the carrot for him is the last games of the season.”

Despite the absence of this key quartet, Neilson is adamant he can still send out a strong team for Saturday’s cinch Premiership trip to Ross County.

“We don’t have a big squad but we’ve got real quality,” he said. “We’ll have 11 players that start tomorrow that, in my opinion, are top-three, top-four level in the country, so we should have enough quality.

“Whether we’ve got nine players on the bench or five on the bench, it’s still going to be good players. We’ll bring a couple of under-18 players into the squad to bulk it up and give them experience.

“We’ve got some big games coming up but the focus has got to be on getting three points at Ross County, which is a difficult venue. We’ll have 1,500-2,000 supporters going up there who will expect to win and we have to make sure we do that.”