Hearts have already identified several left-backs they could sign during the January transfer window. Manager Craig Levein has made solving the position his number one priority and has compiled a shortlist of targets.
With Ashley Smith-Brown injured and Rafal Grzelak out of favour, right-back Michael Smith deputised on the left in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle. Levein admits the area needs urgent attention but knows he must wait almost six weeks before he can make a signing.
“We still need a left-back,” he explained to the Evening News. “That’s one big bugbear we need to fix as quickly as possible. It would give us a little bit more balance. Michael tries to do the job as well as he can but it’s not ideal having a right-back playing in that position. It is what it is at the moment.
“I’m looking at some left-backs just now. It’s one glaring thing that we need to address, but I can’t do anything until the window opens anyway. We’re looking at a number of things.
“Sometimes, availability in January is not that clear. Some of the guys we are looking at have contracts until the end of the season. We’ll just have to wait and see. There are so many variables that I’m not certain about what’s going to happen at the moment.”
Levein praised 19-year-old Jamie Brandon for his impressive performance at right-back against Thistle. The manager was also happy to see centre-back Aaron Hughes and midfielder Arnaud Djoum return from injury.
“Jamie was excellent, Arnaud was excellent, our centre-backs were different class and strolled the game. Nothing caused them any bother,” he stated. “I thought our strikers were okay and I thought David Milinkovic came in and did okay. So there were a number of things I was fairly happy with despite losing a late equaliser. It just seems to be a struggle just now to get points. We just have to fight our way through it. Getting Arnaud and Aaron back in the team has helped. Defensively, we were strong on Sunday. I didn’t feel we were in any danger whatsoever. The attacking side takes a little bit more time to come up to the level required. It just needs people to feel confident.”