Christophe Berra believes Hearts have the strength in depth to cope if Kyle Lafferty ends up making an emotional return to Rangers.
The Ibrox club have already made a bid that fell far short of Hearts’ near £1 million, valuation. But it’s expected manager Steven Gerrard will return with an improved offer before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.
Lafferty watched from the bench on Sunday as Hearts’ new striker Uche Ikpeazu scored twice in the 5-0 Betfred Cup win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle to bring his early season tally to three goals.
Lafferty made an appearance midway through the second half. He might not be saying farewell to the home fans quite yet but Berra is confident Hearts will prevail if last season’s top scorer leaves.
“He scored 19 goals last year in all competitions,” said Berra. “But it is between Kyle and the owner what will happen, whether he goes or stays.
“It will be resolved I am sure – maybe soon, maybe two or three weeks’ time. That’s football. I have been in the game long enough if he does go he will be replaced. People leave clubs.
“It gives an opportunity for someone to step in and be the next name,” he added. “He scored his goals here and if he does get a move then good luck to him. I don’t know what will happen but it’s part and parcel of football – people come in and they move on. We will always attract good players to Hearts. It is just a chance for someone else to step up and take the opportunity. As you saw yesterday (Sunday), big Uche did.”
Berra understands why Lafferty might be attracted by a return to Rangers, where the Northern Irish striker played for four years between 2008 and 2012. Lafferty has spoken before of wishing to play again for Rangers after departing in unsatisfactory circumstances following the club’s financial meltdown. Berra, who followed Hearts as a boy, ignored more lucrative offers to return to Tynecastle from English football last summer. He also found it hard to consider moving away from Hearts during his first spell at the club. Berra suspects Lafferty has had his head turned.
“(When) I was at Hearts first time and I got linked with moves, (emotional ties) are a factor,” he said.
“It is difficult but you need to be a strong character. It will be difficult for Kyle, there is no lying there – everyone knows it. It is up to Kyle to be professional and turn up each day for training and give his all. If he does that no one can fault him for that.
“I think he just comes and plays football,” added Berra, when asked if Lafferty’s form risks being affected by the on-going speculation.
“I don’t think he takes life too seriously. He just gets on with it. He will deal with it in his own way. Only time will tell what will happen.”