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Robbie Neilson looks to Hearts future as he identifies youth duo as Jambos to watch after new contracts

By Ben Banks

Hearts have handed new deals to teenagers Makenzie Kirk and Murray Thomas - with manager Robbie Neilson excited about what comes next.

The Jambos have handed two of their prospects one-year extensions that keeps them in Gorgie until 2023.

They have impressed in Steven Naismith's u18s squad and recently made their first-team debuts under Neilson.

Kirk - son of maroon hero Andy - made his debut away at Ross County last month while Thomas has appeared against Celtic and Motherwell this week.

Neilson believes both have the potential to succeed at Hearts but a relentless work ethic must be maintained.

He said: “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 meanwhile believes Kirk and Thomas represent shrew acquisitions for the Tynecastle side.

More chances could beckon this weekend when Hearts undertake a Scottish Cup final dress rehearsal against Rangers, with rotation on both sides anticipated.

Savage explained: “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.”

Exits have also been confirmed in Edinburgh. Mihai Popescu, Chris Hamilton, Ryan Schiavone, Harris Spratt, Jay Charleston-King, Sean Docherty, Michael Aitken will depart upon their contract expiry dates.

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