Exclusive: Hearts' January transfer plans revealed with new signing targets for key positions

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Tynecastle hierarchy are busy working to bring in fresh faces

Plans are afoot to reinforce the Hearts squad during the forthcoming winter transfer window as management focus on two areas of the team. There is not expected to be a flurry of activity at Tynecastle Park during January, but preparations are being made to bring in a couple of new signings.

Head coach Steven Naismith and sporting director are working to recruit a right-back for the second half of the season. Australian Nathaniel Atkinson is recovering from an ankle injury and on-loan Brighton defender Odel Offiah has suffered health issues during his time in Edinburgh. Hearts feel a reinforcement in that department is important.

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They also intend to look at bringing in another more attack-minded player to strengthen competition. That is seen as secondary to the need for a right-back but Naismith is scouring to see what options might be available further forward. He detailed Hearts' recruitment objectives to the Edinburgh News, stressing that he is generally content with the 27-man first-team squad at his disposal.

"I'm comfortable with the majority of the squad and I'm comfortable with where we sit," he said. "We do need to strengthen the right-back position, especially with Odel's situation. We need to recruit in that department. In the forward areas, there is a bit we could potentially look at but it's not urgent.

"The two main things I'm thinking about are: Right-back, and then that slight bit more experience. That's not a 32-year-old guy who has been around, it's somebody mid-20s who has a level of consistency. In our squad, there is that area - whatever position it may be in - where if the right player was available who we thought could improve us, then we would think about doing something.

"Overall, I think we have a really good group. We have versatility in a lot of areas with players who can play in more than one position. It's about time now, getting these players the right amount of minutes and pushing them on - rather than saying we need to recruit this or that."

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Coaching staff are also mindful of avoiding overload within the senior squad and ensuring the route from B team to first team remains open. Hearts need points and results to push for third place in the Premiership, but Naismith regards youth development as another important priority.

"We are at the top end of where I would ideally like to work in terms of numbers [at first-team level]," he stated. "I'm also really keen to push some of our younger players to be involved. Rather than keep a large squad of players engaged, I would prefer a few younger players who are comfortable in the environment, learning every day, have a desire to play but understand they have to wait and earn their chance. They might need to take coming on as a sub to prove the point that they deserve to start."

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