HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson insists he will not allow sentiment to interfere with his bid to improve the squad after telling defender Adam Eckersley that his contract will not be renewed.
Former Manchester United trainee Eckersley was informed last Thursday that he will be free to leave when his one-year deal expires this summer. That decision has come as a surprise to some fans after seeing the 29-year-old impress in 25 games during the club’s Championship-title-winning campaign.
Eckersley, who signed last August after spending six years in Denmark, has shared left-back duties with Kevin McHattie.
Neilson said: “I had a conversation with him on Thursday and we’re not going to offer him a new contract. He’s done fantastically well for us and been a big part of our success this season. But I just felt with the direction the club is going to take and the direction I want to take the club in, we’re looking for something slightly different in that department.
“He’s a professional guy and he has been a big part of the squad. A lot of difficult decisions have to be made at the moment.
“There are going to be a lot of difficult decisions to come up and that was the first one. We move on, the club has to evolve.
A lot of difficult decisions have to be made at the momentRobbie Neilson
“We did fantastically well in the Championship and the players have been great but when you move up a level, you have to change things.
“The easiest thing in the world would be to keep the same squad and try and keep everything happy, and then come into the top league and not be ready.”
Neilson, whose side suffered only their second league defeat of the season in a 2-1 loss at Rangers on Sunday, added: “I think we are a club that is able to compete in the Premiership but I want to build a team here that is going to compete at the top end of it.
“We’re a team that wants to keep pushing forward, I don’t want to rest on our laurels of having a good season.
“We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep developing the team and if we’re going to bring players in they have to be better than the ones that leave, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS