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Outspoken Hartley escapes Hearts ban

Hearts midfielder Paul Hartley has escaped suspension by the club following a disciplinary hearing.

The Scotland international attended a meeting with club officials at Tynecastle on Thursday morning accompanied by Scottish Professional Footballers Association secretary Fraser Wishart.

Wishart told Forth One: 'He is still a Hearts player, he is fit and he is free of suspension and available for selection on Saturday.

'Today's meeting was called by the club and as such the details of it must remain confidential.'

There were fears Hartley could have followed Steven Pressley out the exit door after an infamous statement delivered by the former captain on October 27.

Pressley, flanked by Hartley and goalkeeper Craig Gordon, revealed 'significant unrest' in the dressing room and criticised the way the club was being run.

The Scotland defender was later axed from the first-team squad and was told to stay away following a similar meeting with club officials.

And Hearts announced on Saturday the 33-year-old had left the club after reaching an 'amicable agreement' to part company.

Hartley was left on the bench until deep into injury-time when Pressley was first absent from the side at Falkirk on November 13.

But he was restored to the starting line-up in the next game and only missed Saturday's 4-1 victory over Motherwell through suspension after he was sent off at St Mirren.

The 30-year-old captained the side in Paisley and head coach Valdas Ivanauskas said after the Motherwell match he would find a place for him for this Saturday's clash with Aberdeen in the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Former Hibernian player Hartley's contract runs out at the end of next season.

The club refused to comment on the meeting.