Rangers target hasn’t been replaced by Hearts

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Craig Levein insists Hearts have no plans to cash in on reported Rangers target John Souttar this summer.

Craig Levein insists Hearts have no plans to cash in on reported Rangers target John Souttar this summer.

Reports have claimed the 23-year-old centre-back is on Steven Gerrard’s summer wish list, despite Souttar recently signing a contract extension tying him to Tynecastle until 2022.

Levein laughed off the speculation and addressed fans’ fears after some suggested the recently-announced pre-contract signing of Livingston defender Craig Halkett is a sign that Hearts are preparing to cash in on their star defender.

‘We will lose Conor Shaughnessy, who is going back to Leeds, in the summer so obviously we needed another centre-back,’ the manager told the Evening News.

‘Craig Halkett has not been signed in any way as a replacement for John Souttar.

I hope John’s still with us for another couple of years.

There’s nothing really to say about John other than we’re in a good position and John’s in a good position.

He’s happy where he is, playing good football and improving all the time, and that was the reason he extended his contract.

He feels there’s a little bit to go here, and so do I.

‘We’ve got all bases covered with John.

‘He recently signed a three-and-a-half-year deal so it puts us in a strong position if there is anybody who is interested in trying to sign him.

We’re in a good place in that regard.

Whatever happens, we’ll just have to deal with it if anything comes along.

The hard work’s been done and we’ve protected ourselves if he does leave but I don’t think that will happen this summer.

This is football though – things happen when you least expect it.’

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