Hearts manager Daniel Stendel explains signing plans as he targets new striker

Focus is on finding a player who can score goals

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:30 pm
Updated Friday, 17th January 2020, 8:33 am
Daniel Stendel is trying to bring in a new forward at Hearts

Daniel Stendel plans to bring a goalscorer to Hearts before the end of the month but admits new arrivals are taking longer than he expected.

Despite Steven Naismith and Conor Washington returning from injury to reinforce his attack, the manager is prioritising a new forward.

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Hearts made enquiries about Burton Albion's Liam Boyce and Charles-Jesaja Herrman of Wolfsburg but neither move has come to fruition. Ahead of Saturday's Scottish Cup tie with Airdrie, Stendel remains determined to find the right player to strengthen his forward line.

"We need players that can help us immediately. Our focus is on the offense, especially when Jake Mulraney may be leaving us in the next few days and we need a scorer," he said.

"It's good that Conor Washington is back but he was a long time injured. You can see in training that we can improve with him, especially with his power and pace, but he is not a player that scores 20 goals in a season.

"He's had a lot of chances in training but I can see he needs a little time for his fitness after a long injury. I hope he can help us quickly.

"Steven Naismith is back in training. He trained every day - I'm very happy about this. You can see when he's fit that he's an important player for us. He's shown in his career that he can score goals and at the moment this is our biggest focus.

"We had a lot of chances in the last game against Aberdeen. We had some chances in the other games and the other teams don't have much more than us. But we scored one after a corner and one with a shot from 20 yards. We have some good situations in the box but we need a player in the box who can score.

"We have tried to bring players in but it’s taking longer than I expected. There are a lot of things affecting this. We have a big squad. Then there is our position in the league and, as with every club, there is the money. But we’ve tried our best. I hope we can soon bring new players in."

Hearts' top goalscorer remains centre-back Craig Halkett with four - all of them in the League Cup. Their highest league scorer is Ryotaro Meshino on three. When asked if Hearts' position five points adrift at the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership is making recruitment more difficult, Stendel responded: "Yes, you say the right thing.

"I know there are a lot of players who can help us but they need to be free, we need to be able to sign them. The player either has to have no contract or the club wants to release him – or we need to pay for him. We need to create space for him in our squad. That’s not so easy. It’s a challenge.

"An example from the last game against Aberdeen - this team is fourth in the table and we are at the bottom. I didn't see much difference between the teams. The only one is they have a striker that scores 20 goals [Sam Cosgrove] and our best scorer has three goals. I think that answers the question.

"It's not so easy to bring players in. We've said what we want but the player has to want to come to us. His club needs to release him and when not all sides say yes, we have no chance to sign this player and that's why we need a bit more time. We're working long and hard every day to change this."