Daniel Stendel reveals Hearts are 'very close' to new signings
Tynecastle manager wants a striker who will score goals
Daniel Stendel revealed Hearts are close to finalising new signings despite finding it difficult to recruit players during the January transfer window.
The manager is eager to bring a striker to Tynecastle Park to help with the task of fighting relegation, and he said new arrivals are now "very close".
The three-week winter break ends on Saturday when Airdrieonians visit Gorgie in the Scottish Cup fourth round. Stendel believes his squad is getting progressively better with training but emphasised that some signings are essential.
"It is hard for every club in January to find the right players for the right money," Stendel told Hearts TV. "The club are working hard to help us bring the players in. I hope we can give some news and bring some players in. We are very close to signing and I hope, in the next days, we can say 'yes'.
"The break was good for the players, especially for the heads. You can feel they want to work hard, you can feel so much power in training. Some players have come back and this is a good situation for us. I hope we can bring some players in to take the next step.
"The weather at the moment is not so easy to train in. I would prefer that we had more time than only one week so we can work so much more. This week there is a game. We cannot work on all the things we want to improve but on the other side we want to bring players in. We need time but we have no time so it's not so easy."
Conor Washington, John Souttar and Steven Naismith are all back training and available to face Airdrie. "Conor Washington, John Souttar, Steven Naismith have no game time. They have trained but training is not a game. Training was a good intensity and I hope we are ready when we start on Saturday," said Stendel.
"Washington played against Aberdeen [before the break] but you could see he was not 100 per cent fit. I hoped he could score to make it 2-1 for us, especially with his pace. We know he needs time to train.
"He had no games, like John Souttar. All three are important players for us. We hope they stay fit and play more in the second half of the season. I think we will have some new players in our squad that we missed in the first half."
The manager has spent the last week trying to free up squad place by telling some experienced players they are surplus to requirements. Glenn Whelan, Jake Mulraney, Craig Wighton and the Hearts captain, Christophe Berra, were four of those banished from the group. Whelan has already agreed his exit.
"There were some impressions from the first games," explained Stendel. "I can only look after what I see in training and games, and some impression from the club before I came. We tried to talk with all the players.
"I know some were big players for this club with a lot of experience and heart in this club. We will look for all the right solutions with respect. It is not easy to find the best way for all to be happy. There are two sides but I can say only that we tried to do the best for the club.
"We respect all the players who played for Hearts, especially our skipper, Christophe Berra. He gave his best for this club, not only in the last two and a half years but also before. He is a really good player. We talked about the situation and we try to find a good way for him, for us and for this club. I hope we will find the best way."
Stendel has yet to decide who will be the new club captain. Craig Halkett donned the armband in Berra's absence against Aberdeen but a decision will be made before the Airdrie game. "We will talk this week about the situation. In this game, it was good he improved with the armband. It was a good reaction from him but the last decision will be made on Friday," said the German.
"It is important we play similar to what we did against Aberdeen. That was a big step in front, with our performance and style of play. The only thing we missed was scoring goals. We are working on this.
"A goalscorer you cannot bake in a factory. You maybe need to bring someone in or other players need confidence to score the goals we need. We are working hard to change it and I hope we can bring some players in. The training is good and all the players want to stay in front but I think we need to some quality to score more goals.
"The last win was a long time ago. We need positive results. We do a lot of things to change the mindset of the players and the atmosphere in the group, on the pitch and in the stadium. The easiest way to change things is to win games. We have the chance to play at Tynecastle. We want to win this game and go to the next round of the cup."
Stendel also hopes the home support get behind their side as they did during an encouraging performance in the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen.
"I said to the players: 'This is our standard for every game.' We did not win and we did not score a lot of goals but we created chances. You can see, when we play like this, all the fans are behind us.
"They give us so much more power on the pitch. It's like one player more on the pitch and we need to use that power. I hope we can create the same atmosphere on Saturday with out game. When we play our game, it is easier for the stadium to get behind us."