London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Alan Pattullo auth-> Calum Murray
3 of 023 ----- L SPL H

Pressley urges Hearts to cling on to emerging talent and push Old Firm

THE countdown to an eagerly awaited pair of New Year Edinburgh derbies might already have begun, but former Hearts skipper Steven Pressley believes what happens off the pitch is likely to provide the most revealing evidence relating to the current health of the Tynecastle club.

The transfer window opens on Thursday, two days before Hearts kick off a vital month against Hibs in the league. Eight days later, and following a midweek trip to Motherwell for a rearranged fixture, Csaba Laszlo's side face their rivals again in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup at Easter Road.

The outcome of this crucial eight-day spell will impact heavily on the side's season. But also of significance is the fate of those players being presently linked with moves away from Gorgie in the coming weeks. Skipper Christophe Berra heads a list that also includes Andrew Driver and Laryea Kingston. Berra has already spoken of his future being in the hands of the club following speculation that Rangers, Liverpool and Chelsea are all preparing to bid for the player. "Money talks," he said.

Those clubs coveting these Tynecastle stars might anticipate Hearts adopting a less robust bargaining stance following the problems this season with payment of staff. This has intensified the on-going debate concerning finances at the club.

"I think it will be a very telling month for the club," said Pressley, who was promoting this weekend's televised derby on behalf of Setanta. "We will find out a lot about their predicament, and whether they need to sell players or not. It will be very interesting. I have said it before: it is very important that the SPL have a strong Hearts and Hibs. The year we managed to split the Old Firm was a very exciting season in Scotland. There was a freshness about it. And I think it is important that Hearts continue to move from strength to strength. And I do believe at this moment in time they have a very good team – probably the best in Scotland outwith the Old Firm."

Berra admitted at the weekend that he hoped a move to a bigger club might happen "one day". Pressley's own exit to Celtic from Tynecastle, after a fall-out with the club's owners, signalled the break-up of Hearts' impressive team of the 2005-2006 season. It also ended his five-year association with the club where he played the best football of his career. "It is up to the lad himself to see how his career progresses," said Pressley, who looked to help guide Berra when they were together in Gorgie. "I think he will know when it is the right time for him to move on. He is maturing all the time.

"I have also always liked young Lee Wallace," continued Pressley, with reference to Hearts' talented left-back. "He progressed into the team during my time there and although he had an indifferent period he has come back very strongly. I think he has huge potential, as has (Andrew] Driver.

"If you look at all these players they are all products of Hearts' youth policy," he added. "I think Hearts as a club deserve a great deal of credit for that. They have sold a lot of product of their own development. Now the players at the club currently attracting the greatest demand are the homegrown players."

Pressley has his own career to concentrate on following his return from a spell in Denmark with Randers. He is on the lookout for another club, and is contemplating one offer to play in the top league in Switzerland, as well as form sides in England.

"At this moment in time there is no definite interest from Scottish clubs, but it is not a financial issue," he said.

"To be perfectly honest, I would play football for nothing. The decision will be based on what's right for me and my family and the education for myself as a footballer."

Taken from the Scotsman

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