Kilmarnock braced for Hearts' Craig Bryson bid

KILMARNOCK manager Mixu Paatelainen expects Hearts to continue their pursuit of Craig Bryson during the January transfer window, however, he stressed today that the player will only leave Rugby Park if the club's transfer valuation is met.

Summer negotiations between Hearts and Kilmarnock proved fruitless with Michael Johnston, the Ayrshire club's chairman, seeking a figure close to 500,000 for Bryson. The 24-year-old captain has a contract running until 2012 and made an international debut for Scotland against the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie last month.

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies remains a huge admirer of the midfielder, whom he worked with as manager of Kilmarnock, and negotiations for his transfer could resume during the January transfer window. Paatelainen explained to the Evening News that Kilmarnock will not stand in Bryson's way once a suitable offer arrives.

"Players can leave if the offer is acceptable. That is the case with every Kilmarnock player and Craig Bryson is in that bracket as well," he said. "Hearts showed interest in him during the summer and he didn't move because their valuation of the player wasn't quite the same as ours. Our valuation of the player is very realistic. It isn't big money at all but there has to be realistic compensation for him so we can replace him. You would be fools to sell your club captain below the figure you value him at. That's why he stayed.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there were further inquiries and offers made. Once those valuations meet each other then the transfer happens.

"In the summer transfer window we were not far away with Hearts."