Hearts plan to sign a new winger during the January transfer window, the Evening News can reveal.
Sam Nicholson’s knee injury leaves the Edinburgh club short of experienced options, with Billy King on loan at Inverness until May. Head coach Robbie Neilson intends to remedy the situation with a new recruit when the window opens.
Liam Smith has returned to Riccarton from a month on loan at Raith Rovers. He goes straight into the first-team squad for Saturday’s match with St Johnstone at Tynecastle. That allows Hearts the option of playing him at right-back and shunting Callum Paterson forward into a wide-right role.
Nicholson is due to return from injury during January but will need some time to rediscover match sharpness. With that in mind, Neilson is already planning to bring in a new winger.
“We’re looking at all different areas. I’d spoken before about trying to recruit a wider player,” he told the Evening News. “To be honest, there was nothing really in our market during the summer. We’re continually looking for that player and there are guys available so we’ll keep working at it.
“At the moment I’m happy with that squad, and we should get Sam Nicholson back in January as well. If we get him back then we’re only really looking to recruit one player. However, you never say never in football.”
Smith, 20, played in European and domestic matches for Hearts during July and August before joining Raith on loan. He can play right-back or left-back and Neilson is eager for him to progress at first-team level.
“We want to get him involved and develop him over the next few months by giving him some game time,” he explained. “He did really well at Raith and we’re pleased with him, I just think he needs to start getting developed in our first team now. That might be starts and getting some game time. It gives me options. Smithy can play right-back or left-back, so it gives us cover there as well. He needs to be playing games at his age so we have to give him the opportunity to try and get that next step. He’ll get game time in the next few months.”