Hearts: Boss Craig Levein distances defender John Souttar from Rangers move

Hearts v Inverness Caley Thistle
Souttar scored against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to help Hearts reach Scottish Cup final

Hearts manager Craig Levein believes centre-back John Souttar would not be interested in joining Rangers.

The Ibrox club have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old Scotland defender at the end of the season.

Levein addressed the issue in his press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday's league game against Rangers at Tynecastle.

"I'm not sure John would go there to be honest. No, I don't think so," Levein said, before walking out.

Souttar scored his first goal of the season as Hearts beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-0 last weekend to secure a Scottish Cup final meeting with Celtic on 25 May.

Levein, though, has played down Steven Naismith's chances of being fit for the showpiece.

The on-loan Norwich City striker has been sidelined since 27 February after suffering a knee injury against Celtic that required surgery.

"If he can make it, fine," Levein said. "I'm not relying on that and we need to prepare without him and, if he makes it, that's a bonus.

"I'm sure if Steven is capable of playing in the cup final then he will and you know what type of character he is.

"I wouldn't gamble. There are certain things you make a lot worse. The chances of us taking a risk are low.

"The worst outcome is really bad and I don't think it's worth that - especially if he is going to be here long term."

Levein revealed there has been progress in Hearts' attempts to secure Naismith - who will be a free agent this summer when his Norwich contract expires - on a permanent contract.

Even if the Scotland forward is not fit for the cup final, he will still have a key role as part of Hearts' backroom team after proving a calming dressing-room influence in the semi-final.

"We made another step forward this week, so we have another meeting next week," the Tynecastle boss added.

"He is an experienced player who has been to Hampden on numerous occasions and can talk about his experiences, particularly with the younger players.

"It made sense for him to come along and help out. And, as with everything with Steven, he was diligent and will probably do the same again for the final."

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