Top-six first for Hearts – then Europe

Thinking ahead: Craig Levein has outlined plans for next season
Thinking ahead: Craig Levein has outlined plans for next season
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Hearts director Craig Levein revealed today that the club will target European football the season after next but are only concerned with a top-six place for now.

Having just won promotion from the Championship, Hearts want to consolidate back in Scotland’s top flight and hope to finish in the top half of the league. Thereafter, they will look at European aspirations but Levein is determined not to set unrealistic targets too quickly.

Asked if Europe was a possibility next season, the director of football replied: “That’s the following year. I’m only thinking about next season. Publicly, top six is straightforward. We’ve got our own ambitions.

“We’ve got a lot of things in our favour. We’ve got momentum. We’ve got young players who will be a year older and they will be better, without a doubt. We’ve also got 16,000 fans here [at Tynecastle].

“We’re selling season tickets in the Roseburn Stand for the first time in a long time, so we’ll have at least 15,000 Hearts supporters in here for every game. That’s a big plus.”

Levein will spend the summer helping head coach Robbie Neilson supplement his squad ahead of the new campaign. The primary targets are a new centre-back and a striker, although Hearts believe they could sign up to five new players in total.

Midfielders Jason Holt and Scott Robinson are leaving as their contracts will not be renewed. Striker Genero Zeefuik has returned to the Netherlands, where he is contracted to Groningen for another 12 months.

Centre-backs Brad McKay and Danny Wilson are also heading for pastures new, with McKay joining St Johnstone on freedom of contract. Left-back Adam Eckersley is being released after completing one season in Edinburgh.