Daniel Stendel reveals thoughts on Craig Gordon as he targets more Hearts signings

Manager enjoying recruitment process as transfer window nears an end

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:30 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 7:35 am
Craig Gordon is keen on a return to Hearts but Celtic want to keep him

Daniel Stendel is not ruling out a summer return to Hearts for Craig Gordon but a quick deal with Celtic before tonight's transfer deadline is unlikely.

The Hearts manager explained that a new goalkeeper is not his priority in this window despite Gordon, 37, pushing to leave Parkhead.

The Scotland internationalist is the final six months of his Celtic contract and wants to play more regularly. He would like to rejoin his formative club, however Celtic would only let him go today if they sign another back-up keeper to Fraser Forster with Scott Bain currently injured.

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Stendel will reassess his squad ahead of the summer and said he is not focused on signing a new No.1 right now. He already has three first-team goalkeepers in Zdenek Zlamal, Colin Doyle and the on-loan Manchester United man, Joel Pereira.

"My feeling is we don't need a goalkeeper at the moment. We said we're looking for offensive players and Joel played well in the last games," stated the German. "Craig Gordon has a contract with Celtic. I don't really know him but I know he has a history with Hearts.

"He is a really good goalkeeper and an important personality, but at the moment I'm only really looking at the last day and that we get the squad we want for the next games. When we achieve our goal, then we can look more towards the summer."

Stendel wants to reinforce his attacking options and is close to signing midfielder Marcel Langer from Schalke 04. Langer is in the final six months of his contract but is out of favour in Gelsenkirchen.

Stendel is hopeful of a deal before tonight's deadline. If not, a pre-contract agreement for a summer move is a possibility. He has already brought forwards Liam Boyce and Donis Avdijaj to Hearts, plus Toby Sibbick on loan from Barnsley.

The manager said he enjoys being heavily involved in the recruitment process. "Normally you have ideas of which player you want to sign. At the moment we don't have a sporting director and I have a lot of calls with players, agents Ann [Budge] and Jaqui [Duncan, finance director]. This is a little bit new for me but it's a good experience.

"We want to improve the squad and we’re working very hard to do that. For me, it’s still a new experience, being so involved in the process. I have the experience now to know that it doesn’t matter how close you are to signing a player. It doesn’t matter until he signs.

"You need time, you need patience, and I think we have made three signings who can help us already. Maybe we can sign one more, someone who can improve us even more.

"I’ve said before we’re looking for an offensive player. I’m happy about the last game [against Rangers] and our performance, our goals that we scored – two very important goals. I’m happy that the young players are providing good options for us, but I think we know that we need consistency in our offence, so every week we can play at this level or even better.

"Playing without the ball, we’ve improved a lot but we can play better, need to play better, in games where we have more possession."

Hearts are also working to offload more players before the January transfer window closes at midnight tonight. Glenn Whelan, Jake Mulraney, Aidan Keena and Kevin Silva have already gone, while Steven MacLean, Craig Wighton and Rory Currie have been loaned out.

Dundee are keen to sign former captain Christophe Berra but he has different options in England and, potentially, abroad. Other fringe men could also depart. "We’ve talked with some players about the situation," said Stendel. "We respect the contracts of every player and the decision comes down to the player, in the end.

"I think professional players all want to play. They like to train but playing is the reason why they are footballers. When the chances to play are not so high here, they need to decide if they want to train or want to play."