Jamie Walker had his '˜head turned' by interest from Rangers

Jon Daly has made his first big decision as Hearts caretaker manager by omitting Jamie Walker from his squad to face Celtic amid interest in the midfielder from Rangers.

Jamie Walker, pictured scoring against Rangers in 2014. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Jamie Walker, pictured scoring against Rangers in 2014. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Walker missed Ian Cathro’s final match in charge as they crashed out of the Betfred Cup against Dunfermline.

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And Daly has maintained the stance that the midfielder will not be in the right frame of mind to play when Hearts begin their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign at Parkhead on Saturday.

The club’s under-20s coach, who says he feels ready to become a first-team manager, said: “A club have made an offer for him, it’s kind of turned his head a bit. He is mentally not in the right place.

“We need everybody on board at the minute and everyone in the right place mentally and everyone pulling in the same direction.

“Jamie is a little bit off where he needs to be, fitness-wise, in terms of mentality.

“The conversation I had with him was that we will leave him out this weekend with a view to hopefully giving him a few days to try and get his head right, and hopefully, if I’m still in charge next week and he’s still here, getting him back involved next week.

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“Because Jamie has to understand that Rangers is one club. There’s a million and one other clubs in the world that would love Jamie Walker. If I was manager of another club I would sign Jamie Walker for £1million no problem because on his day he’s the best at the club.”

Daly was caretaker for a 2-2 draw against Ross County immediately before Cathro arrived in December last year, when director of football Craig Levein stated that the former Dundee United striker and other coaches at the club were not ready to take charge.

Levein claimed there would be an internal succession the next time but Daly accepts nobody envisaged that would be eight months later.

However, the Irishman feels he is ready to take charge in the long term if required.

“I don’t see why not,” the 34-year-old said. “I feel ready to do it but I’m just really happy to be at the club, regardless of where it’s at. I will enjoy the experience however long it lasts and take it from there.”