Hearts make progress on new striker search

Hearts have asked about Sam Gallagher of Southampton. Picture: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Hearts have asked about Sam Gallagher of Southampton. Picture: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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HEARTS are progressing with attempts to sign a new striker having made official approaches to two clubs.

Head coach Robbie Neilson has identified targets both in Britain and abroad as he tries to add competition to his forward line.

Neilson reported that a deal this week looks unlikely but officials at Riccarton are working to get the new man in place as soon as possible. Hearts want a mobile forward with a goal threat to challenge Osman Sow, Juanma Delgado and Gavin Reilly for a first-team place.

An enquiry was made about 20-year-old Southampton striker Sam Gallagher but Aberdeen are also interested in bringing him to Scotland. Hearts are waiting to press ahead with other deals if necessary.

“We’ve spoken to a couple of agents and a couple of clubs but there’s nothing looking really likely this week,” Neilson told the Evening News. “There are a couple of players who appeal to me but things are at a very early stage. Contact has been made so the club or the player concerned have to make a decision.

“It’s both British-based and foreign-based players. Kenny Anderson and Scott Gallacher have left and there might be others who move on in the next couple of weeks. That frees up a wee bit of cash to try and bring people in. We have a good squad at the moment but I’d like to add a wee bit to it.”

Neilson should see his forward line reinforced one way or the other with the anticipated return of Soufian El Hassnaoui. The Dutch-Moroccan has yet to feature this season due to knee and groin injuries but could finally get his campaign underway in February.

“Soufian’s doing all right. He’s been playing for the under-20s although he’s still a wee bit away,” said Neilson. “He played 70 minutes or so last week and did fine but he’s still building his fitness up. I think he’ll be another month before he’s nearer the first team.

“He’s getting better and he’s training with us every day. He’s involved in under-20 games, he just needs to keep building up and get through this period because he’s really still recovering from a long time out.

“He hasn’t had any reaction to the injuries so far. It was one injury which he came back from, then it was another thing. That’s what happens when you’ve been out for such a long time. He’s starting to get more consistent in training and in the games he’s been playing as well. Hopefully, I reckon another month and he’ll be back in round about it.”