Hearts could be set for another summer of upheaval after manager Craig Levein admitted he is looking to add up to 10 new players.
The Jambos have had a frustratingly inconsistent season after former boss Ian Cathro made wholesale changes to the playing squad before losing his job.
Cathro brought in 11 new players last summer and the uncertainty that brought translated onto the pitch.
With his side’s campaign in danger of fizzling out, Levein says he is already looking at how he can strengthen ahead of next season.
He said: “From my point of view, it has been a tumultuous year. I think there are a number of areas we need to improve on in the football department, and that’s something I’m addressing at this moment in time.”
When asked how many players he thought he would need to bring in, Levein said: “It can change, (but) somewhere between seven and 10.
“It’s a normal situation. Going into the summer you have players out of contract and some of them will leave, some might leave that you don’t want to leave, some might be moved on and it’s just normal.”
He added: “We have begun the recruitment process since January, and we are making progress on a number of fronts.”
Hearts’ well-documented financial problems in the past have meant they have often had to rely on loan deals to bring players in, while the development of the new stand at Tynecastle has also been a significant outlay by the club. Although he is aware he will not get a huge amount to spend in the summer, Levein is confident he will be backed in the market.
“We won’t get to the position where we are throwing huge amounts of money at the playing budget because the club will be run frugally,” he said. “But I can only stress that I’ve been happy with the money that’s been spent on the squad.
“I don’t expect a reduction.”
On the pitch the Jambos are on a run of five games without a win and are in danger of slipping out of the top six but will be boosted by the presence of captain Christophe Berra against Partick Thistle this weekend.
The experienced defender was left out of Alex McLeish’s first Scotland squad and there were concerns an ongoing ankle problem had forced him to pull out, but Levein revealed his exclusion was not down to fitness.
He said: “I don’t believe it was through injury. He has had a little knock and has played with an injection in the last couple of games, but he is fit and will be involved for us on Saturday.
“He has a little problem but nothing to worry about.”