Jon McLaughlin claims he would be happy to remain at Hearts but understands the club need to plan without him while he continues to stall on his future.
The 30-year-old goalkeeper heard the news Hearts signed Czech goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal on a three-year deal while he was on duty with Scotland in Peru. McLaughlin’s Tynecastle contract expired on 31 May so he was officially club-less when making his Scotland debut 48 hours later in the first half of the 1-0 defeat by Mexico.
McLaughlin has now returned from the tour of South and North America and is uncertain where he will be playing his club football when the new season starts. There’s no question he has options after a successful season at Hearts but he is taking his time to weigh these up.
“I have said all along that it has been a massive club for me,” he said. “It has done great things for my career. I have enjoyed my time there and I would still be happy to remain a Hearts player next season. But they need to look after themselves and do what is right for them. If I do hear from them then I will see but I am just waiting to see what calls come to me and what offers come.”
His Tynecastle days, however, look numbered following a successful ten-month stay.
Hearts manager Craig Levein, pictured inset, has already made it quite clear he expects McLaughlin to return to England, where he played the entirety of his career before moving to his Edinburgh birthplace. McLaughlin revealed he has had no contact with anyone at the club since the last day of the season. Hearts have also allowed Jack Hamilton, who McLaughlin replaced in the side last season, to move to Dundee.
“We will have to see,” he said. “I haven’t spoken to anyone at the club since the Kilmarnock game. I haven’t had any contact with Craig Levein. I know he has signed a goalkeeper in the last couple of days so we will have to wait and see.
“I go back and I have a couple of days in Edinburgh before I go away on a family holiday,” he added. “I will get some time off and some much-needed rest. I hope to relax and get a bit of sun because we didn’t get much of that in Peru!”
McLaughlin hopes his first-half performance in the far hotter Estadio Azteca for Scotland against Mexico has alerted more potential suitors to his availability.
“My future is still uncertain and I still have to figure out where I am going to be playing my football next season,” he said. “There are still question marks over that and there is a lot to do and look at when I get home. I have spoken with my agent but he likes to leave me to it when I have the serious business to do.
“I trust him to do that and hopefully my performance against Mexico will be a good advert for myself and furthers my reputation a little bit. I will wait and see but hopefully good things come when we get back.”
McLaughlin’s stock could not be any higher after he capped a fine season at club level by distinguishing himself in such a grand setting. Although he conceded the winning goal from Giovani dos Santos after just 13 minutes, he impressed with his display against the attacking Mexicans.
“Unfortunately, it was a bit of a scuffed finish and it went through one of the boys’ legs and that has done us,” he reflected. “Apart from that, we did really well as a group, especially when you look at the inexperience of the team and the back four. I felt I acquitted myself really well.
“I had to pinch myself when I was looking around, playing for Scotland in front of more than 70,000 fans.”