Hearts boss targets up to three new players in January

Head coach Robbie Neilson has the full backing of Hearts' board

Head coach Robbie Neilson has the full backing of Hearts' board

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Ann Budge and the Hearts board have backed head coach Robbie Neilson’s plans to sign up to three new players during the January transfer window.

Neilson met directors on Friday and was told they are happy with his work and that funds will be made available to strengthen the first-team squad. The head coach wants a left-sided midfielder and, potentially, a defender and a striker if he can move certain players out of the club to create space.

Although a section of supporters have criticised his management due to recent results, the Tynecastle board offered full backing to the 36-year-old.

“I expect there to be a bit of movement in January – two or three out and two or three in, possibly,” Neilson told the Evening News. “It depends what we get and what we can do.

“This stage is an important period for us. Previously, we’ve brought players in at this time who have done us a turn so I expect to try and do something in January.

“I was really pleased with the board meeting, it went very well. We have a great board, Ann’s been fantastic and Craig Levein [director of football] is on the board as well.

“It’s good speaking to them because I get my thoughts across about what I want to do. I go to board meetings now and again. Craig deals with the majority of them but, every so often, I’ll go along just to let them know what’s happening with the team. The one on Friday was really just discussing what I want to do in the January window. It’s making sure we’re ready for it and that we’re financially prepared. We keep the board informed about decisions regarding players coming in and going out.”

Neilson is now lining up possible signings but will first need to move some players on. “Who comes in depends who goes out. I’d like to get a left-sided player in,” he continued.

“Then it depends what happens in the defensive department and the striking department - what comes in, what goes out and what offers we get. I’ll be looking to get a left-sided player in and then take it from there.”

Some fans voiced discontent in recent weeks as Hearts failed to win their previous four matches before Saturday’s 3-0 win against Motherwell. Neilson insisted he didn’t have any fears meeting the board. “No, not at all. I’d like to think they are happy with me. We’re doing all right,” he said. “The criticism is part of football. People have opinions and, if there’s no opinions, there’s no football.

“I’ve got an opinion, you’ve got an opinion. They may not be the same but that’s life. We’ve got a pathway that we’re following with the club. I’ve said before, it’s probably ahead of where we expected to be, but it’s important there are expectations here.

“You always want to push on. There’s no point coming in this season and saying: ‘Right, we’re just happy with top six.’ We already achieved that last year, so we have to push again.”