Brighton loan ace thriving in Scotland addresses uncertain future as Hearts plot permanent move

Alex Cochrane is soon to be out of contract with Brighton but has been a key figure in Hearts' rise up the Scottish Premiership this season

Brighton defender Alex Cochrane has impressed on loan at Hearts

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Alex Cochrane insists he has improved as player since moving north of the border but remains uncertain about his future.

Cochrane, 21, agreed a season long loan deal at Hearts last summer and has been a key player in their push for European qualification.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The Brighton born left sided defender - who is out of contract with the Seagulls this summer - has featured 22 times for the Edinburgh club and has scored three so far this season.

Cochrane can discuss pre-contract agreement with any interested clubs as his Brighton deal is now into the last six months.

The England youth international says regular football in the Premiership and working with Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has helped his development.

“I feel I've got more experience under my belt,” said Cochrane, who has been part of the Brighton academy since 2019.

“There are still areas of my game I need to work on but, at the same time, I'm still young. It's stuff I need to improve on in training but I feel I've come on a lot since the start of the season.

“We're more than halfway through now. I feel I've really come on leaps and bounds with Hearts, especially defensively. It's something I've been working on and I've made sure I've been knuckling down.

“Going forward, I've been getting more freedom into my play and linking up with players. I feel I'm doing that more and more this season.”

Hearts, who are third behind leaders Rangers and Celtic, are keen to sign Cochrane permanently but it's unclear at this stage what Brighton's plans for Cochrane are.

“There has been nothing yet at all. Nothing has been said. All my talking has got to be done on the pitch and then we can go from there,” said the defender.

Cochrane will be in action tonight as Hearts take on leaders Celtic at Tynecastle. The Albion man has previously enjoyed victory against the Hoops on his Hearts debut in July last year.

“The last one was a fantastic experience for me. It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was my first proper game in front of fans.

"Even though it was only 5,000 [due to Covid restrictions] it felt like a lot more. Now I can't wait for Tynecastle to be packed out with a lot more supporters. I'm really looking forward to it."