Hearts look at new defensive targets after Tommy Smith talks

No deal for New Zealand internationalist

Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 10:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 10:43 am
Robbie Neilson's priority is to sign a defender for Hearts.

Hearts are looking at alternative defensive signing targets after talks with the New Zealand internationalist Tommy Smith failed to result in a deal.

Recruiting a new centre-back is the priority above all else for manager Robbie Neilson following news that John Souttar has suffered another snapped Achilles.

However, discussions with Smith have ended and he is now expected to remain closer to home in England for family reasons.

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Colchester United are keen to secure his signature and the 30-year-old free agent is giving their interest serious consideration.

Hearts remain determined to sign a central defender with Souttar out for at least six months. Christophe Berra is not training at the moment due to a minor calf issue, so only Craig Halkett is fit out of their centre-backs.

The Edinburgh club plan to recruit at least one more winger, a central midfielder and possibly a striker after the arrivals of goalkeepers Craig Gordon and Ross Stewart, plus forward Jordan Roberts.

The need for a centre-back outweighs all of the above for the moment and club officials hope to secure a new face in the next week or so.

Manager Robbie Neilson has looked at potential targets in Scotland, England and abroad who could fill the void in his squad created by Souttar’s latest injury.

The Scotland internationalist was out running at Riccarton last week when he suffered his third Achilles rupture since joining Hearts in 2016.

Hearts would prefer to bring in someone who can operate as a left-sided central defender but are not ruling out a move for a right-footer.

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