Hearts' Callum Paterson unsure if he will be offered new deal
Hearts full-back Callum Paterson admits he is "not sure" if he will be given a new deal at the club as he recovers from a serious knee injury he sustained at the end of December.
The 22-year-old's contract expires in the summer, but he insists his focus is continuing his eight-month recovery.
"I've got to remain positive," Paterson told BBC Scotland.
"I'm expecting my knee to heal in October, and then that's when my future gets decided."
The Scotland international conceded that his "world had come tumbling down" in the immediate aftermath of the injury but he is now in a positive frame of mind about a complete recovery.
He said: "I had cruciate reconstruction, I had my lateral meniscus removed, my medial meniscus repaired, I had bone shaved off my femur and my medial ligament was strained as well. I've had the whole shebang.
"I've got a long way to go but I'm focused on my return."
Prior to his injury, Paterson had been linked with a move to Derby County and Birmingham City in the English Championship.
Asked if Hearts would be offering him a new deal, he replied: "I'm not sure yet.
"I've said all along I'm focusing on getting back to full strength; anything that comes along before that is a bonus, whether it's here or somewhere else."
'Cathro has a brilliant tactical brain'
Paterson, meanwhile, defended the Tynecastle head coach Ian Cathro in response to the growing criticism of the former Newcastle United assistant manager.
"There is nothing wrong, in my opinion," he said. "In my opinion, he is a brilliant manager.
"In my past I have had ex-footballers who have been my managers and it's a massive change for me to have somebody that has not really come from a footballing background, but he knows a lot about the game.
"The tactical brain he has is brilliant.
"The way he trains and the intensity is brilliant. Two or three times a day we are out there and we are leaving the training ground at five o'clock at night sometimes so it's great to have someone like that."
The criticism of Cathro, who has won four of his 13 games in charge, intensified after Wednesday night's 3-1 Scottish Cup fifth-round loss to rivals Hibernian.
Paterson, however, remains upbeat about the rest of the Premiership season. "We are five points off third place," he said. "It's not exactly a massive gap for us."