Hearts boss Robbie Neilson insists “key player” Toby Sibbick will not be allowed to leave the club, unless his valuation is met.
Blackpool this week had a six-figure offer rejected for the 23-year-old defender who has enjoyed a strong run of form in recent months after initially struggling to make an impact following his arrival from Barnsley last January.
Sibbick – who scored his first goal for the club in Sunday’s Scottish Cup win at Hibernian – is contracted to Hearts until 2025 and Neilson is hoping to retain the burgeoning centre-back for as long as possible.
“He’s a very, very important player for us,” the manager told Sky Sports. “Any player we have that’s at Toby’s level has a value and that value didn’t get matched, so he’ll stay here.
“I hope it stays that way at least until the end of the season because we need him. The whole process is about building a team.
“There’s no point bringing in players then six months later flipping them for money when we don’t believe the value is there.
“We’re building the team around key players and at the moment Toby is one of those key players.”
Hearts have already signed defender James Hill and attacker Yutaro Oda and Garang Kuol this month, and Neilson remains keen to add at least one more, with Sheffield Wednesday’s Callum Paterson one of those on his wishlist.
“We’ve got a couple of targets and we’re still pushing to get at least one in,” he said. “I’d like to get one in before the weekend but I’m not too sure.”
Hearts and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon posted pictures of himself carrying out light gym work on Tuesday, exactly a month on from his season-ending double leg break. Neilson is delighted to see the 40-year-old making such swift progress in his rehabilitation.
“First of all, it’s an inspiration to all the players here and outside of this football club that, at his age, he’s so desperate to come back,” said the manager.
“He’s putting in all the work and doing everything he can, so there’s no surprise from our perspective because we know what a top professional he is.
“We’ve not put any timelines on [his return]. It’s just a case of making sure Craig gets back to full fitness first and foremost.
“If you ask him, he’s pushing all the time but from our perspective it’s about giving him the time and when he’s ready, he’ll be back.”
Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window closes at midnight in Scotland on Tuesday January 31, 2023.
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