Hearts manager will blood youth – not look to free agents

Craig Levein has been impressed by the form of Lewis Moore
Craig Levein has been impressed by the form of Lewis Moore
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Hearts have no plans to sign any free agent players outwith the transfer window, with manager Craig Levein preparing to blood more youth academy graduates.

Levein insists he will use Riccarton youngsters to fill any gaps created by injury or suspension between now and January. He signed three new recruits before last month’s transfer deadline – goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, midfielder Ross Callachan and winger David Milinkovic – but isn’t seeking any more.

Hearts have previously utilised the free agent market to good effect beyond the end of a transfer window. They signed Spanish midfielder Miguel Pallardo in September 2014 and Cameroonian Arnaud Djoum 12 months later. However, Levein has no intention of repeating those moves after agreeing to resume duties as Hearts manager. “At this moment in time, I don’t see any need to look for any more players,” he told the Evening News.

“We’ve got Ashley Smith-Brown coming back from injury, plus we’ve added David Milinkovic and Ross Callachan on the last day of the transfer window.

“We’ve also got some of the young kids pushing through. Lewis Moore has done well in the games he’s played. Rory Currie has had a little injury or he might have been involved last weekend against Aberdeen.

“We’ve got Harry Cochrane back from injury and Euan Henderson is coming back from injury as well. Any holes in the squad, whether it be through suspension or injury, will be filled by players from the academy.”

Ahead of Saturday’s Premiership match away to Hamilton Academical, Levein and his coaching staff have continued working players hard during training sessions at Riccarton.

His return to the dugout brought an encouraging performance against Aberdeen despite the 0-0 draw and the manager is keen to continue progress. He is also conscious that the change of figurehead means more new methods for his players to adapt to.

“Everybody worked really hard to get us into a position where we were ready to play on Saturday. We had boys away here, there and everywhere on international duty last week,” explained Levein.

“Thursday and Friday were pretty hectic, with a lot of information to put across. Some of it goes out of the window because you can’t retain everything. I’ve been a player and I understand that new things need practised again and again and again. Then you start to understand what you need to do on a regular basis. It’s never easy to take everything in when you introduce something new, so that’s the position we were in.”