Ian Cathro today confirmed that there are likely to be players leaving Hearts in this month’s transfer window.
Tony Watt is already on his way back to Charlton Athletic after his season-long loan at Tynecastle was cut short. The head coach admits more are set to follow the misfiring striker through the exit door as he strives to improve his squad for the second half of the season. Conor Sammon, Juwon Oshaniwa and Alim Ozturk are among the most high-profile players currently out of favour at Hearts.
Asked if there would be departures, Cathro told the Evening News: “Yes, I think that’s a natural thing. A lot of the guys are at stages in their lives where they want to be playing regularly. There will be a number of players here who we can’t offer that to. It’s always going to be a natural thing. We deal with it privately, support people and try to make the right decisions for the team to improve.”
With the Premiership taking a break until late January and his players having been granted this week off, Cathro is fine-tuning plans to ensure his side are in the best shape possible for the resumption of their campaign. This includes establishing transfer window priorities, although he acknowledged this can be a fluid situation, depending on what develops in the market over the coming weeks.
“It [the break] gives me time to look back over all the games and over all the work we’ve done,” he said. “I’ll assess and look into the market more now. It’s a time to prepare what will be a really important couple of weeks of work for us.
“There are some areas of the squad we’re targeting, but this window is very difficult to get exactly what you want. You have to take each situation as an individual thing and see what’s available to us to improve.”
The need for Cathro to get things right, both in the transfer market and on the training ground, over the next few weeks was underlined by the paucity of Hearts’ performance in losing 1-0 at home to Aberdeen on Friday. The Tynecastle side barely threatened Joe Lewis’ goal as their latest setback – which means they have just one win from their last six games – left them six points behind the Dons and eight points adrift of second-place Rangers.
Asked if he was disappointed by the lack of questions asked of Aberdeen, Cathro said: “Definitely. If you look at our performances before the Aberdeen game, we’ve had a lot more product and caused people a lot more problems. We can’t be pointing the finger at the front end of the team alone because there are other factors. It’s disappointing we weren’t able to do more up front but that’s a responsibility of everyone.
“I think the second half was stronger. We made some adjustments to how we were set up and I think the team felt more comfortable. The team became quite man-to-man, with a lot of battles going on. We stayed alive in the second half. The guys are up for the fight. We just need to be able to do it better.”