Hearts coach Ian Cathro is adamant that failure to qualify for Europe will not hinder his summer recruitment plans. Cathro is confident of securing four or five new signings despite not being able to offer European football.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Rangers, coupled with St Johnstone’s 1-0 win over Partick Thistle, means Hearts will finish outside the Europa League spots in the Ladbrokes Premiership this season.
Cathro acknowledged the disappointment of missing out but admitted it might be too early for his team to compete abroad. He knows he needs several new recruits and more time to build before any serious European assault.
He stressed that the signings being targeted – such as Scotland defender Christophe Berra – will not be put off by the absence of European football.
“Definitely not. At this moment, I don’t think Europe is something which is a factor in that,” he told the Evening News. “Given the project and where we’re going, it’s more important that when we go into Europe we are really ready to compete.
“Part of being ready to compete will be the players who come and join us. We’re not at that stage. To be fully ready to go and compete the way we want to compete, it’s slightly early right at this moment.
“We wanted to be there, of course, 100 per cent. In terms of the plan and the recruitment, I don’t think not being in Europe will be an issue at all. There’s no concern over that at all.”
Hearts’ defeat at Ibrox included a red card for Prince Buaben, who will now miss Wednesday’s league match with St Johnstone. Jamie Walker will return from suspension at McDiarmid Park after sitting out in Glasgow.