Hearts will use new captain Christophe Berra as the linchpin of a three-man defence next season.
The Scotland defender signed a three-year contract to return to Tynecastle last week and brings top-level experience to Ian Cathro’s side. The head coach intends to employ a back three using Berra, John Souttar and Aaron Hughes. It is a system he favours and used it several times towards the end of the season just finished.
Berra is also familiar with it having used it with former club Ipswich Town. Cathro explained that the 32-year-old’s knowledge of such a formation will be vital to Hearts.
“He has played in back fours in countless games. He also has a lot of experience playing in a back three this season when Ipswich went that way,” said Cathro. “When you’re defending down around your own penalty box in the English Championship, maybe at the start or the end of games, it’s as intense as you’ll find anywhere.
“We have that aspect of the game up here as well. Christophe is more than ready to play a leading role in the make-up of our back line.”
Berra’s return to his formative club is the start of a summer recruitment drive aimed at returning Hearts to a challenging position in Scotland.
Several more players are expected to follow over the coming weeks, with pre-season training due to start in mid-June. A trip to Ireland for Cathro and his squad is planned for the first week in July.