Hearts coach Robbie Neilson wants four new players

Robbie Neilson's priority is another defender
Robbie Neilson's priority is another defender
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Hearts are aiming to sign another four players across all positions before the new season starts.

Having already recruited Morgaro Gomis, James Keatings and Soufian El Hassnaoui, head coach Robbie Neilson covets another four signings to ensure sufficient squad depth for the season ahead.

Neilson wants a goalkeeper, a centre-back, a midfielder and another forward to add to the triumvirate already signed. Neil Alexander remains the primary target for the goalkeeping position and would also perform a coaching role if he arrives. Hearts are confident a deal can be done with the 36-year-old former Scotland internationalist, who is a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace.

As for other targets, Neilson is still in the process of identifying who should join the rebuilding programme at Tynecastle. “We’re still looking for a centre-half to bring in, plus a midfielder, a striker and obviously a goalie,” he told the Evening News today. “I feel we’ve got a strong team at the moment, we’ve just not got a lot of depth. We’re going to need the minimum of another three, maybe another four, just to give us a bit more strength.

“We’ve got Danny Wilson, Brad McKay and Jordan McGhee at centre-back but we need cover in there. We’re pretty light on the ground defensively. We have a right-back, a left-back, two centre-halves and one extra centre-half in the squad. That’s all, so we need another defender at least. If the budget allows us, we could maybe get two but for the moment we definitely need one.

“We’ve still got a wee bit to go but the players we’ve signed already are good players so we’ve got the basis of a good team. It’s the easiest thing in the world to just jump in and sign guys left, right and centre, but you need to make sure you get the right ones. It’s a case of doing a bit of homework, making enquiries and waiting to see if we can get boys out of contract.

“There are a lot of players out of contract but also a lot being offered to us who are under contract. We need to see if we can get them out of contract or if their club wants them to go or whatever.

“There are a lot of variables and there will be a lot of players coming up in the next three or four weeks as well.”

Neilson has declared himself happy with Hearts’ start to the new SPFL Championship campaign. The Edinburgh club face an opening day trip to Ibrox and an Edinburgh derby with Hibs at Tynecastle in their first two matches.

“I’m delighted with the fixtures – it’s a great start for us,” Neilson told the Hearts website.

“Right at the start we have high-quality matches and they give us the chance to lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

“To be honest, it doesn’t matter who you get in the first two games of the season, they are just as important as any other but having Rangers and Hibs in the first two adds a little bit more to it as we know they are great games to be involved in.

“All the players will be desperate to be involved in them so they will have to work hard and be prepared in pre-season.

“It will be a great introduction to Scottish football for the new players and what a start to their Hearts careers with two full houses to play in front of.”