Craig Levein knew in January he needed quick Hearts summer rebuild

Craig Levein
Craig Levein
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Craig Levein admits he needed to complete his ten new signings early to be properly ready for pre-season.

The Hearts manager will add more new recruits but wanted the bulk of his squad in place to start the summer programme.

Hearts face five friendlies and four Betfred League Cup ties in July, hence Levein reinforcing his squad with a total of ten new faces. Goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal, defenders Ben Garuccio and Peter Haring, midfielders Olly Lee, Ryan Edwards, Oliver Bozanic and Bobby Burns, winger Jake Mulraney and forwards Uche Ikpeazu and Steven MacLean have all signed.

Levein told the Evening News he is satisfied with business done so far. He prioritised getting deals completed early to ensure most of his squad took part in what he views as a vital pre-season campaign.

“We needed a lot of players so that’s been my main reason for bringing so many in,” he said. “I did make a conscious decision back in January that I’d be ready earlier this season, rather than bringing too many players in late in the window.

“You can never rule that out because you just never know what’s going to happen, but I wanted to be in a place where we had most of the players in the building for pre-season starting. The pre-season is really important for everybody.”

Games in July will provide clues as to who can establish themselves as a regular in Hearts’ new-look team before the Premiership starts in August. “We will have some Betfred Cup fixtures first, plus the friendlies,” added Levein.

“I’m hoping that by the time the league comes round we will have had a chance to look at what our best combinations might be. With quite a few new players, there are things I need to discover about partnerships on the field and stuff like that.

“We will use the pre-season matches for that initially, and we will still be doing a little bit of experimenting in the Betfred Cup as well. I hope to have a clearer idea of exactly what the team is going to look like come the first league match at Hamilton.”

Levein stressed he will not necessarily settle on a strongest 11 come the start of the league campaign. “That’s going to be an ongoing process. It’s not quite as simple as that,” he explained. “What I will be able to do is have a look at players because some start seasons quicker than others. I need to see who is in form and who is going to help us on a game-by-game basis.

“At the same time, I can get a look at things generally and work out what I think is the best team for us. That’s where I want to get to but it might not happen overnight. It could take a bit of time.”