Toby Sibbick: Why Hearts won't be selling defender for £400k after Tynecastle transformation

Earlier this season there would have been a queue of Hearts punters willing to drive Toby Sibbick to the airport themselves.

But it is a sign of just how well the 23-year-old has turned his fortunes around at the Gorgie club that when the fans heard that Blackpool had bid £400,000 for their man, few, if any, considered it a deal worth making.

This is a guy who is soaring in the estimation of management, supporters and outsiders, ever more so when considering his contribution at the home of derby rivals Hibs at the weekend. Not only was that a 90-minute masterclass in defensive resilience and improving maturity but there was that late, late breakaway run from one box to the other before waiting for the out-rushing former Scotland keeper David Marshall to go down so he could clip the ball over him and into the net to wrap up a decisive 3-0 Scottish Cup scoreline.

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If the defensive display spoke volumes to an inner resolve that has helped him from the depths of despair as fans jumped on every error and cast aspersions on his ability to hold his own at a club that is established at the top end of the Premiership table, a regular contender for silverware and now looking to learn from experience on the European stage, the goal and the finish showed a belief in himself and his team-mates.

Hearts defender Toby Sibbick celebrates making it 3-0 in the Scottish Cup fourth round win over Hibs. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Emerging from the ranks, he took responsibility. Confident that someone would cover for him he broke away and believed in his own worth.

The way the fans celebrated with the player in the seconds after the ball hit the net and after the final whistle was the biggest demonstration of the turnaround. It was his first goal for the club and it was hard to determine who that meant more to, the punters who were all limbs and delirium in the stand, his team-mates who engulfed him, his manager who has stood by him and is getting the benefit of that, or the player who couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

A player who impressed in his short first spell on loan, he signed on a permanent deal in January 2021 and the current spell has been a test of character and endurance. He has admitted that times have been difficult as individual errors cost the club early doors but he refused to chuck in the towel and his boss had not given up on him either.

In a clutch of central defenders, including the likes John Souttar, Craig Halkett, Lewis Neilson, James Hill, Kye Rowles, Stephen Kingsley among others he has had to fight for the right to pull on the maroon.

Well down the pecking order at one point, he is now showing the technical attributes but also the mental steel to compete at the levels demanded. Which is why it is understandable that Blackpool are interested but unsurprising that the capital club value him more highly than £400,000.

It has taken the player, who has made 44 appearances for Hearts, and the Tynecastle club a lot of effort, energy and resilience to get to the stage, where he is not seen as a liability but an asset. Why would they part ways now that that is reaping rewards.

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