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By ESPN Staff

Jefferies confirms Webster interest

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies has confirmed the club plan to hold talks with former skipper Andy Webster on Tuesday following his release by Rangers.

But Jefferies warned a deal was "not as close as some people think''.

Hearts had enquired about taking Webster on loan before the centre-back secured his release on Monday night, allowing him to join another club despite the transfer window being closed.

Jefferies said: "We plan to have a discussion with him some time this afternoon. Two or three clubs have been chasing him. He's had offers from clubs in Scotland and England. We've thrown our hat into the ring. We noted our interest when we heard he was going to be available on loan. We'll wait and see what happens.''

Webster was frozen out by Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov towards the end of the club's Scottish Cup-winning season in 2005-06 after refusing to extend his contract. He then became the first player to use FIFA's Article 17 rule that allows a player to leave a club after a specified period of time, joining Wigan before moving to Rangers, initially on loan.

Hearts wanted £4.5 million for Webster but the Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually ruled that Webster and Wigan were liable for only £150,000.

Jefferies said: "It's not about what happened in the past, it's about the future. He's a quality player who would improve us. If we are fortunate enough to get him back here he'll be a good signing and the owner recognises that.''

Webster endured a nightmare spell at Ibrox, making just three appearances in four years and being hit by a string of injuries. But he lifted the Scottish Cup last year after then Dundee United manager Craig Levein took him on a season-long loan.

"He's a top player,'' Jefferies said. "You can see the job he did for Dundee United. I spoke to Craig Levein about him last night and he couldn't speak highly enough about him.''

Hibernian manager Colin Calderwood earlier refused to rule out a move for Webster.

Calderwood said: "That's an interesting one. Anyone who is out of contract, that's the next stage. You become quickly aware of anyone who has terminated their contract. We're going through that list at the minute and there's always the chance of offering people out of contract the chance to come.

"We've got a game on Thursday where we'll give one or two that opportunity.''

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