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Hearts have decided to terminate the season-long loan deal of Rangers midfielder Alex Lowry.

The 20-year-old moved to Tynecastle at the start of August in search of more regular game time but he struggled to nail down a starting berth in Steven Naismith’s team.

Lowry made 17 appearances in total for the Jambos but only 12 as a starter. His best moment in a maroon jersey came in late September when he scored a late winner away to Kilmarnock in the Viaplay Cup.

The Ibrox academy graduate, who has been troubled by a back issue recently, started only two of Hearts’ last eight matches before the winter break.

The Tynecastle club were unable to guarantee him the game time he needs to accelerate his development and have taken the decision to send him back to Ibrox prematurely.

“We took the decision to end the loan with Alex’s best interests in mind,” Naismith told Hearts’ website on Friday evening.

“There is absolutely no doubting Alex’s talents as a player and he’s shown in periods what he’s capable of doing on the pitch.

“But with the competition for places fierce in our squad, he’s probably not going to get the game time that would allow him to develop further, which is one of the reasons he was here in the first place.

“I’ve no doubt he’ll go on to become a top player. He’s a great boy, we thank him for all his efforts at Hearts and wish him well for the future.”

Rangers are now likely to look for another club for Lowry to join for the remainder of the campaign.

The midfielder made a big impact when he burst into the Rangers first team under Giovanni Van Bronckhorst two years ago and he was rewarded in May 2022 with a new contract until the summer of 2025, but so far he has failed to kick on the way the Ibrox club hoped.