Robbie Neilson stressed today that players who helped Hearts finish third in the league deserve a chance to prove themselves in Europe.
The head coach does not plan a massive overhaul of his squad this summer, although three to four new signings are expected.
The bulk of the squad will stay together to compete in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League starting on June 30. Neilson is keen to give those who performed well in the Ladbrokes Premiership an opportunity to show their credentials in Europe with the Edinburgh club.
He intends to sign a goalkeeper, full-back and a striker, with Matt Gilks and Faycal Rherras amongst the primary targets. There is also a plan to keep money aside in case a player catches his interest after the summer transfer window ends.
That apart, those who took Hearts to an unexpected third-place finish in their first season back in Scotland’s top flight will be rewarded with a Europa League chance.
“I’m not looking to make wholesale changes like we did last year when we moved up from the Championship,” Neilson told the Evening News. “The players who have played this season have proven that they can play at this level, that they can play at a high level in this league. There is always movement in the summer so the guys who come in are going to be important to us and, hopefully, take us to the next step.
“We have an idea of what we’re going to do. There are a couple of little bits and bobs we need to get ironed out.
“If we’re pushing forward again next year, it’s important that the guys who go out are replaced by better players. We have to make sure we respect the money the club has and that we don’t over-commit.”