Craig Levein to consider further Hearts signing if duo depart
Craig Levein will consider signing a new midfielder if Hearts lose both Arnaud Djoum and Olly Lee this summer. Following Monday night’s 7-0 win over Shelbourne, the manager explained that another venture into the transfer market is “a possibility”.
Hearts are content with their first-team squad for now having recruited defender Craig Halkett, striker Conor Washington and winger Jamie Walker. Steven Naismith should follow next month but the fates of Djoum and Lee could determine the need for an extra addition.
Djoum is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon and yet to accept Hearts’ offer to extend his contract, which expired in May. Lee plans to return to England and Levein will not stand in his way. Should both depart, a new central midfielder may be required to fill the void.
“Yes, that’s a possibility,” said Levein. “Peter [Haring] is not playing right now, he has been left at home and would ordinarily be an automatic starter, I want to use Sean Clare more centrally, so it depends on a few factors.
“I just need to see what happens between now and the transfer window closing. If both of those players were to leave, it would give me something to think about.”
Hearts handed Walker Djoum’s No.10 shirt when he signed a three-year deal at Tynecastle Park on Friday. “Well, Jamie is going to be here for certain next season. Arnaud isn’t certain to be here. That was the reason I chose that, and I wanted Jamie to be among the one to 11 numbers,” explained Levein.
None of the new arrivals were involved on Monday night but they should play against Glenavon on Saturday. Steven MacLean, Jake Mulraney, Clare, Craig Wighton, Dario Zanatta, Connor Smith and Christophe Berra all scored against part-time Shelbourne in the rout at Tolka Park.
“I expected to win the game. The first half was tighter than the second,” said Levein. “We had to make a change before the game because Aaron Hickey was feeling his calf. I was frustrated for him but I don’t think it’s anything too serious. I wanted to get through these games without any injuries but I think Aaron has a calf strain.
“Mulraney has a chest infection and hasn’t been 100 per cent. We only gave him a half because of the problem with his breathing. We didn’t want to take any risks. I thought he was good.
“Craig Wighton got a goal, which will obviously help him. I thought Sean Clare and Andy Irving were also good, Dario Zanatta did well, although Shelbourne didn’t have their strongest team out.”
Smith, the 17-year-old midfielder, celebrated signing a new three year Hearts contract with two assists on top of his goal – despite not entering the field as a substitute until the 60th minute.
“Connor has been doing very well,” said Levein. “He is very young and quite slight but he’s got talent. I thought all the youngsters did well. It’s exciting for me to think what they might all be like in two or three years.
“Putting on a positive performance as a fringe player, or a young player, is never a bad thing and I thought quite a few of them did that last night. It does make me take stock and think ‘maybe they can help us’.”