HEARTS boss Daniel Stendel insists he treated axed skipper Christophe Berra with respect.
The former Scotland international defender admitted his “hurt and anger” at being told he has no future at Tynecastle and can go either on loan or a permanent deal.
Berra, 34, revealed the decision came as a shock just two days after his wedding.
But Head Coach Stendel is adamant he treated the centre-back with the utmost courtesy.
The German, who has also chopped Glenn Whelan and Aidan Keena, told the Daily Record: “We tried to talk with all of the players. I know that some players were big players for the club with lots of experience. They love Hearts and this club and we look for all of the right solutions, with respect.
“But in the end it’s not easy to find the best way, so that they are all happy. There are always two sides, but I can only say that we tried to do the best for the club.
“We respect all of the players that play for Hearts or sign for Hearts, especially our skipper, Christophe Berra.
“He gives his best for this club, not only the last two-and-a-half-years, but also before.
AXED…skipper Christophe Berra on his way out at Tynecastle.
“He is a really good player, but we talked about the situation and we tried to find a good way for him and for us.”
The former Barnsley gaffer, who was sacked by the Oakwell club in October, conceded this transfer window is a challenging one to navigate.
He admitted: “It’s sometimes hard, for every club in January, to find the right player for the right money.
“But I can say that the club is working hard to bring the players in. I hope that we can give news this week. We are very close to signings.”
Craig Halkett took over as captain against Aberdeen and is the clear frontrunner for the responsibility, having previously held the role at Livingston.
Stendel said: “Craig improved with the armband. He took the responsibility for the Hearts team, for my team, on the pitch. It was a good reaction from him and he had a good game – but the decision will be made on Friday.”
And the German is hopeful Steven Naismith, Conor Washington and John Souttar will be able to play a part in Saturday’s Scottish Cup-tie against Airdrie.
He added: “All three are important players for us. We hope that they stay fit and can play in the second part of the season, so much more than they played in the first. ”