Hearts boss may hold off and make ‘post-window’ signing

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is likely to hold back some of his transfer kitty
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is likely to hold back some of his transfer kitty
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Hearts coach Robbie Neilson does not expect to have his squad finalised when pre-season training starts on June 15.

New recruits are in the pipeline at Tynecastle, with former Scotland goalkeeper Matt Gilks close to signing, but Neilson admits not every deal will be done right away.

His priorities are to sign a goalkeeper and a striker, with Neil Alexander, Abiola Dauda and Osman Sow all having left Hearts this year. Gilks will be Alexander’s replacement and a striker is next on the agenda. At the moment, Juanma Delgado and Gavin Reilly are the only recognised forwards in the first-team squad.

Neilson intends keeping funds in reserve for a potential late arrival, though. In each of his two seasons managing Hearts, this has proven a successful ploy with the signings of Miguel Pallardo in September 2014 and Arnaud Djoum in September 2015.

Both players arrived as free agents after the summer transfer window closed and Neilson will again gamble on that possibility this year.

“I don’t expect to get everyone in before the start of pre-season and, to be honest, I’m not looking to do that,” he told the Evening News. “I’ll look to bring in a few but I’ll also keep some money. If someone becomes available at the start of the season or even after the transfer window shuts, then there might be another gem out there for us.

“We got Miguel Pallardo in the first season and Arnaud Djoum in the second season, both outside the transfer window. These guys have been key players for us over the last two years. It’s important we don’t rush into things.

“Holding till after the window shuts is an idea I like and I think it’s something we’ll look to do again. When that window finishes, players’ expectation levels come down a bit regarding what they’re looking for. They then come into our wage bracket and we can try to get them in.”

Hearts players are due to report back to Riccarton in the middle of next month. The first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round takes place on June 30.