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Stendel defends January clear-out

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has defended his approach to his January clear-out amid criticism from past and present employees.

Club captain Christophe Berra, Jake Mulraney and Craig Wighton have been told to find new clubs and train with the reserves after Republic of Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan had his contract terminated.

Whelan branded the club “amateurish” over the manner of his departure and accused Stendel of “throwing him under a bus” following public criticism.

Berra felt there was a lack of respect about the way he was treated, while striker Aidan Keena revealed former boss Craig Levein told him about his move to Hartlepool rather than Stendel.

The recently-departed Jon Daly also branded Stendel “embarrassing” after the German claimed Andy Kirk was the only coach he trusted to work with him.

Stendel, who hopes to make a signing before Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Airdrie, said: “With Christophe I can say I tried my best to handle it and maybe some decisions look a little bit difficult. But I have a short time to do things.

“Other decisions, I have no bad talk with Jon Daly. I can explain a lot of things, but I feel I do the best for this club.

“Honestly, I have not really heard what Glenn Whelan said, I have not heard what Jon Daly said. I hear a lot of things saying it was bad but nobody talked with me, and in our situation we are doing everything OK with Jon Daly and Glenn Whelan and I spoke with Christophe Berra. I understand his situation but I hope he understands our situation.

“The first half of the season was not good and we need to change things.”

Berra was “hurt and angry” after being banished to the reserves two days after his wedding.

Stendel said: “I know everything he has done for this club and we give him respect and we also want to give him the chance to find his best way.

“He is the skipper, well he was the skipper in this team, he is an experienced player, but the feeling is he won’t play so much in the second half of the season.

“What can I do? Well, I can speak with him and give him the chance to decide what is the best. He is experienced enough to say ‘I want to play, I want to do this’. This is what we tried to do with him.

“In the end it’s his decision, I gave him the chance to think about this and he wants to do it.”

Stendel added: “We cannot bring players in when we have so many players but we hope very soon we have a new player coming in.

“We cannot train with 25-26 players, it’s too much.

“It maybe looks bad from the outside but we try to give every player respect and find the best way for both sides.

“You will find in every club, every decision, it’s not really the case that both sides are happy but we want the best for Hearts.”

When asked how many players he would like to bring in, the former Barnsley boss said: “There is so much we need to improve.”

However, the German does not want to lose Aaron Hickey amid reports that AC Milan are interested in the 17-year-old left-back.

Stendel said: “It’s good when our player, especially in our situation, can play so well that other clubs are interested. This is our way for the future, but at the moment we look at what we can do here.

“We want to keep all the players that we need and this is 100 per cent Hickey.”