Balatoni off back to Hearts with his future up in air

CONRAD BALATONI will report back for duty at Hearts tomorrow not knowing what the future holds.

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With his loan spell at Partick Thistle about to expire, the defender will return to the Tynecastle club with no idea when his next match will be or even when his next wage packet will arrive.

As owner Vladimir Romanov attempts to trim the wage bill and dispose of the Edinburgh club's most valuable assets, Balatoni could find himself thrown into the first-team spotlight.

Or he could be ushered out the door along with a number of his team-mates.

The 20-year-old's fate is likely to be decided by money – whether Hearts have enough to keep him or whether Thistle can find afford to bring him back to Firhill for the second half of the season. The Englishman is philosophical about what lies ahead.

Ahead of Thistle's home Irn-Bru First Division clash with Queen of the South this afternoon, Balatoni said: "Just now, I am going back to Hearts.

"If Thistle can do a deal, then who knows what will happen. I am not going to say I will not be back. It does look unlikely, but there is always that hope.

"Someone else might come in and make an offer and Hearts might prefer if I stay there.

"It will be down to money at the end of the day because with the financial position they are in, they have got to take what is best for them. I would be more than happy to come back to Thistle, though.

"Nobody from Hearts had been to watch since I went on loan, but I heard someone might have been there last Saturday.

"I thought I played well against Raith so they might have gone back and given me a positive review.

"For now, I will go back and work hard in training and see what the manager says. If he says I am not in his plans then that is football and I will try to find another club."

Balatoni arrived at Firhill in the summer eager to impress, but found himself behind captain Alan Archibald and Willie Kinniburgh in the Jags pecking order.

But injuries to Kinniburgh and Scott Robertson meant he has had more playing time than he expected. And even though he has been through his share of ups and downs, Balatoni ends his second spell in Glasgow with happy memories.

He said: "If everyone had stayed fit I might not have played as much as I have, but a couple of the boys picked up injuries and I was able to come into the team and play a few games.

"It has been good on that front and I have made a lot of friends during my time at Thistle as well.

"I got sent off against Berwick and didn't play well in the first few games. Nobody was more disappointed by those performances than me as I knew I could do a lot better.

"But you have got to take the highs with the lows and that was one of the lows. I got dropped for a couple of games but I was pleased with how things were going until the Scottish Cup tie with Culter.

"I know people were upset and angry with the result and the performance that day, but I have come back stronger from that and hopefully I have showed the fans what I can do."

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