Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon on the 'disappointment' of losing 'main ally' John Souttar - and words of encouragement for Harry Stone

In John Souttar, Hearts captain Craig Gordon is set to lose his biggest “ally”.

The centre-back is in the final few months of his career at Tynecastle Park after signing a pre-contract agreement to join Rangers.

Speculation surrounds his short-term future but Giovanni van Bronckhorst appeared to play down a January switch.

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For Gordon, the goalkeeper didn’t hide his “disappointment" of Souttar leaving but admitted “these things happen in football".

Craig Gordon and John Souttar have a close relationship on and off the field. Picture: SNS

The 39-year-old, however, assured fans his team-mate “will continue to give everything that he has got” with Hearts to host St Johnstone in front of a big crowd on Tuesday.

"I speak to John a lot,” Gordon said. “He’s probably the one in the squad I go to the most to chat about the team or passing on messages.

"He’s a good leader. I speak to him quite a bit about the dressing room and tactical things. He’s my main ally and I’ll be disappointed to see him go because he’s been fantastic around the place.

“But nobody has any problems. Not a single team-mate will expect anything less than 100 per cent because we see it every single day and we have done for the last number of years.

Harry Stone has been on loan at Partick Thistle in the first half of the season. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“We know that we can rely on him and he will do his job when asked.”

‘These things happen’

He added: “I can understand the fans will be disappointed. I’m disappointed that he won’t be playing in front of me every week. But I recognise how hard he has worked to get back into this position.

‘I’ve seen what he has done for Hearts, how good he has been in the dressing room and how good he has been with the other players on the training pitch. I accept that is what has happened.

"I’m a little bit disappointed but only on a football level that he won’t be playing in my team. But these things happen in football and we all move on.”

During Souttar's six years at Hearts there have been plenty of testing moments with injuries. It’s that ability to bounce back which makes Gordon believe the Scotland international deserved his move.

“To get himself back playing better than he has ever played in his career before,” he said. “That is a huge effort.

“From that point of view I only have admiration for how well he has come back.

“He was the one still pushing the standards, always in the gym and always the last man to leave.

“I think it’s a four-year contract he’s signed which is big for him. I’m sure Rangers will pay him a lot more than Hearts could do and that’s just the reality of the situation.

“Hearts are trying to get to the next level and maybe one day we can do that to other teams and take their players.”

Stone future

Gordon offered words of encouragement to highly-rated goalkeeper Harry Stone who returned from a loan spell with Partick Thistle where he made four appearances.

Another loan move for the 19-year-old could be completed this week.

“It didn't work out for him," Gordon said. “[Jamie] Sneddon is having an incredible time and has broken the club clean sheet record. Sometimes as a keeper that can happen.

"He has come back in here and hopefully he will now go out and play some games.”

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