IAN BLACK today revealed his desire to stay with Hearts and sign a new contract for next season to continue his love affair with the club he has supported since childhood.
The influential midfielder scored an emphatic equaliser during a man-of-the-match performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox. He is out of contract in June and is awaiting news from Hearts on whether he has a future at Tynecastle.
“I am keen to stay,” said Black. “Obviously being a Hearts man and playing for the club is great. It’s up to the club so we’ll see where things go at the end of the season. Nobody has come near yet to discuss anything.
“There’s plenty time left till the summer. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and, if they come to me, then obviously I’ll sit down and listen.”
Regardless of where his future may lie, Black is keen to help Hearts reach the qualifying rounds of next season’s Europa League. Saturday’s victory propelled the Edinburgh club to fifth in the Scottish Premier League, although sixth-placed Dundee United can leapfrog Hearts by beating Inverness tonight, with the top four guaranteed European football.
Rangers are expected to be denied a club licence by UEFA for next season as a result of their financial situation, which would then mean the SPL’s fifth-placed team would qualify for Europe.
Black, however, wants Hearts to reach the Europa League on their own merits. “We don’t want to benefit from anybody’s problems,” he said. “We want to go and do it on the pitch and win games ourselves rather than benefit from troubles other clubs are going through. The boys are going to work hard for that.
“Saturday was a great result. We knew we had to work hard because we hadn’t won in our last six games. It was important to get the win and all the boys are delighted.
“Rangers are strong, they’ve got great ability throughout and it takes a lot to beat them. We worked hard and deserved the win. With a bit of luck, we got it. If we don’t get the praise (because of the problems Rangers have) we know ourselves we worked hard and deserved it.”
Meanwhile, Hearts have loaned Jason Thomson and Jonathan Stewart to Raith Rovers for the rest of the season. Both players are out of contract this summer and are surplus to requirements at Tynecastle.