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Mihai Popescu to leave Hearts as young Jambos duo sign contract extensions at Tynecastle

By Ross Pilcher

Mihai Popescu will leave Hearts this summer.

The Romanian joined the Jambos in 2020 to boost Robbie Neilson ’s backline during their 2020/21 Championship campaign.

He played often as the Gorgie outfit won the second tier title at the first time of asking.

However, last summer's recruitment saw him fall down the pecking order and he signed for Hamilton Accies on loan in September.

Now the Tynecastle club have confirmed that Popescu will move in when his contract ends.

Chris Hamilton, who has spent the season on-loan at promotion chasing Arbroath, as well as Ryan Schiavone, Harris Spratt, Jay Charleston-King, Sean Docherty and Michael Aitken will also depart.

Meanwhile, two of the Jambos’ young stars have signed contract extensions.

Makenzie Kirk and Murray Thomas will remain in maroon for another year.

Kirk, son of former Hearts striker Andy, made his first team debut as a late sub against Ross County last month while Thomas was handed his debut during the midweek defeat to Motherwell.

Both have starred for Steven Naismith’s Under 18 side, who reached the Scottish Youth Cup final.

Neilson said of the starlets: “I’ve been impressed with Makenzie and Murray when they’ve trained with the first team group and they’ve put in a lot of good performances for the U18s.

“Senior debuts have to be earned so they should both be very proud that they achieved that this season.

“The hard work never stops though, and they’ll need to keep impressing in training but I’ve no doubts that they’ll continue to do so.”

Sporting director Joe Savage added: “I’m very pleased for them both and this shows that Hearts will always give young talent a platform.

“One of our key focuses is to develop these players with the aim to get them into the first team.

“For Makenzie and Murray to have made their debuts is great for everybody, but it’s only the first step.

“They’ll know how much hard work has gone into getting to this point, and how much more they’ll need to put in to stay in the manager’s thoughts.”

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Dive Deeper:
Robbie Neilson looks to Hearts future as he identifies youth duo as Jambos to watch after new contracts
The Jambos have handed new deals to two of their promising players after being impressed by their talent.
3 talking points as Rangers head to Seville on a high after Ibrox young guns shine in Edinburgh fringe show
It was a good day for the Ibrox side as they warmed up for Seville with an Edinburgh fringe show
Northern Ireland teenager Ross McCausland in dreamland after Rangers debut
19-year-old forward made his senior bow in Saturday's 3-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle
Motherwell 2 Hearts 1: Steelmen heading for Europe with Fir Park occasion to remember
The Steelmen faced a crucial match in their quest to reach the Europa Conference League.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Crystal Palace set to hand youngster Premier League debut in final three matches of the season
Patrick Vieira has welcomed in several young Eagles into first team training recently and is set to offer game time…
John Souttar and Craig Halkett in Rangers return timeframe as Hearts prepare to welcome back SIX stars
Defensive duo in line for return at weekend with four others set to feature against Motherwell on Wednesday.
Get all your news in one place