Why Robbie Neilson wants interest in his Hearts players as he has say on Toby Sibbick situation

Robbie Neilson does not believe Hearts are a selling club right now.Robbie Neilson does not believe Hearts are a selling club right now.
Robbie Neilson does not believe Hearts are a selling club right now.
The war of words between Hearts and Blackpool manager Mick McCarthy over transfer bids for defender Toby Sibbick may not have been welcomed by the Gorgie hierarchy, but the club’s manager Robbie Neilson is pleased that other teams are taking notice of his players.

Hearts knocked back a bid for Sibbick from the Seasiders on Monday, who are fighting relegation in the Skybet Championship. Their recently-appointed manager McCarthy accused Hearts on Thursday of being dishonest over the offer, claiming that the Jambos are trying to drum up interest in the 23-year-old defender, which forced the Tynecastle outfit to release a strong statement on the matter. “The club would prefer to conduct all transfer matters in private, but we will not sit back and let the good name of Heart of Midlothian be besmirched,” it read, with exact details of when Blackpool submitted their proposal.

Hearts have no intention of selling Sibbick unless the money gets really silly. He is deemed a vital part of the squad. However, Neilson is braced for further enquiries about his players, given the good form of the team currently lying third in the cinch Premiership.

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“Toby is a Hearts player and he will continue to be that hopefully for a long time,” said Neilson. “I see him as a valued member of the squad. We always had confidence in him but at the start of the season he was probably not playing to the level he wanted to. But he has shown the reason we brought him here and long may that continue.

“It is part of football and I would prefer people to be talking about our players than no one talking about them. It shows the level we are at and how we are doing. I didn’t see Mick’s comments, I read our statement and that’s it. I’ve had no contact from Mick about Toby, I leave that to the sporting director [Joe Savage]. I hope there is more interest in our players in the coming days but we stand strong and knock them back. Then in the summer there is more interest and we do the same again.

“We had the same situation with John Souttar last season with Rangers and we kept him to the Scottish Cup final. Unless we feel it is time for him to go or the bid is too big they will stay here. It shows how strong a position we are in. For me, we are not a selling club and we don’t need to sell players. Unless someone comes in with a bid we can’t knock back then they will stay with us. At this time of the window if someone goes it is very difficult to replace them with similar or better quality.”

Third-placed Hearts look to continue their fine run of form when they travel to their nearest challengers Livingston on Sunday. Having already defeated Hibs, Aberdeen and St Mirren – a trio dubbed as challengers for third place – Neilson knows the importance of taking care of the West Lothian outfit.

"There is a group there and it's still quite tight,” Neilson said of the chasing pack. “If you can win three or four games on the bounce then you're going to springboard into those positions. For us, it's important to keep winning games. We have Livi, Rangers and Dundee United in the space of six days. If we can pick up maximum points there then we'll be flying.”