Craig Levein puts new centre-half as top priority for Hearts

Craig Levein
Craig Levein
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Hearts manager Craig Levein wants a new centre-back after securing five new signings for next season. Reinforcing his defence is one of Levein’s priorities and he is in the market for another centre-half this summer.

Aaron Hughes’ future remains unclear as the 38-year-old mulls over whether to prolong his career for another 12 months. Should he decide to retire, Levein will then be looking for two new central defenders.

He has already signed up midfielder Olly Lee, winger Jake Mulraney, midfielder Bobby Burns, plus strikers Uche Ikpeazu and Steven MacLean ahead of pre-season training.

A new centre-back is amongst his next priorities. “A few things are falling into place but there is still some work to be done,” Levein told the Evening News. “I’m looking for another centre-back. Whether Aaron stays or goes, I might need one or maybe two.”

John Souttar and Christophe Berra have been first choices in the middle of Hearts’ defence this season, with Hughes managing 26 appearances despite some injury troubles.

Levein was forced to throw 16-year-old Chris Hamilton, who was called into the Scotland Under-21 squad last night, in beside the Northern Irishman for the last Premiership match of the campaign against Kilmarnock. Berra was suspended and Souttar injured for the trip to Rugby Park.

Although impressed with young Hamilton’s maturity, Levein intends nurturing him in Hearts’ reserve side next season.

“Chrissy was really good on Saturday but he’s a wee bit away from being a regular starter. I’d like him to develop in the reserve team first, although I really like him,” explained the manager.