Hearts have confirmed the signing of Polish defender Krystian Nowak on a two-year contract.
The 22-year-old centre-back, who left Polish second-tier side Podbeskidzie at the end of last season, has spent more than a week on trial with Hearts and could be included in the squad for Wednesday’s Betfred Cup match away to St Johnstone. Head coach Robbie Neilson is relieved to finally end his search for a replacement for Jordan McGhee after the suspension of captain Alim Ozturk left Igor Rossi and teenager John Souttar as the only two recognised centre-backs available and a potential defensive problem on his hands for yesterday’s 2-1 defeat by Celtic at Tynecastle.
“Krystian will give us four centre-backs, with Rossi, Ozturk and Souttar already here,” Neilson told the Evening News. “We’ve got young Danny Baur coming through but he’s just not at that level yet. We need to have four centre-backs so we’ve got cover because we thought we were going to have a bit of a problem against Celtic, with both [Callum] Paterson and [Faycal] Rherras struggling with injury. We were worried we might not be able to play them but they managed to get through it.”
Hearts could, it transpired, have had Nowak, a former Widzew Lodz player and Polish Under-17 internationalist, registered in time for yesterday’s match. The Edinburgh club were baffled to learn that Celtic new boy Scott Sinclair, who came off the bench to score a late debut winner yesterday, was eligible to play at Tynecastle despite his club seemingly failing to register him before the close of play on Friday. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed as much when suggesting that he was of the understanding that Sinclair was only registered on the morning of the match, shortly before the club officially announced his signing.
“We were told the SFA shuts at 5pm on a Friday – obviously, it doesn’t,” said Neilson. “I was surprised a little bit to see Sinclair’s name on the team sheet. What are the rules? Is it as it goes along?
“Apparently, if someone turns up at the SFA on a Saturday they can put it through, but we didn’t know that. We know now, so the next time we get a player we’ll register him on a Saturday morning.”