Andy Driver to miss Hearts' pre-season due to operation

ANDY DRIVER will travel to Sweden next week for an operation which will preclude him from much of Hearts' pre-season preparations, however, the procedure should finally rid the winger of his persistent thigh injury.

As revealed by the Evening News earlier this month, Driver is to undergo revolutionary treatment involving scraping the thigh tendon to remove defective collagen. He will be unable to play for four to six weeks afterwards but remains hopeful of being fit for the SPL kick-off on Saturday, 14 August.

The 22-year-old visited Vladimir Romanov, Hearts' majority shareholder, in Lithuania on Monday to discuss his future. During the trip he was examined by Lithuanian medics, who reached the same conclusion as their Riccarton counterparts and decided to refer the player for specialist treatment.

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Romanov is keen for Driver to sign a contract extension even though his current deal does not expire until June 2013. The winger is content with life in Edinburgh despite several suitors in England coveting his services and believes a move to the Championship may not be in his best interests. As yet, Hearts have not received any bid deemed acceptable for one of their most prized assets and will only consider offers involving an initial payment in the region of 3.5million.

Further talks with Driver and members of the Tynecastle hierarchy are planned for early next month once the player returns from Scandinavia.

Meanwhile, two Hearts teenagers have been included in the Scotland Under-17 squad for this year's Open Nordic Tournament in Finland, which runs from 30 July to 9 August. Goalkeeper Jack Hamilton and defender Scott Campbell are in an 18-man pool named by coach Ross Mathie yesterday. Scotland reached the final of the tournament last year, only to lose to England after extra-time. This year they find themselves grouped with the Faroe Islands, Norway and Sweden. The other section contains Finland, Denmark, England and Iceland.