Hughes close to Hearts deal

Veteran Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes is closing in on a move to Hearts as Ian Cathro looks to reshape his Tynecastle squad.

Hughes – who featured at Euro 2016 for Michael O’Neill’s side – was pictured arriving at the Jambos’ Riccarton training base ahead of completing his move to Edinburgh.

The 37-year-old is a free agent after completing a spell with Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters.

Cathro is looking to add experience to his defence and has turned to the former Newcastle, Aston Villa and Fulham centre-back.

Hughes has made 104 appearances for his country, the last of which came during October’s 2-0 defeat to world champions Germany.

If the deal goes through, he will replace former Hearts skipper Alim Ozturk after he was allowed to join Turkish outfit Boluspor.

The 24-year-old centre-back has penned an 18-month contract with his new side after negotiating his release from the Jambos over the weekend.

Ozturk joined Hearts back in June 2014, winning a Championship winners’ medal in his first season as the Jambos bounced back from their administration nightmare to reclaim their top-flight place at the first time of asking.

He was appointed captain by former boss Robbie Neilson in 2015 and led the club to a third-place finish on their Premiership return.

But he dropped down Neilson’s pecking order this term and has now been allowed to move on by new head coach Cathro.

A club spokesman said: “Alim will forever be remembered in Gorgie for his last-minute, 40-yard screamer that broke Hibs’ hearts at Easter Road in October 2014, securing the Jambos a point and helping to maintain an unbeaten record that lasted nearly seven months.

“The club would like to thank Alim for his time at Hearts and wish him all the best with his career in the future.”

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