Hearts players' futures on the line as manager Daniel Stendel targets new signings

Edinburgh club must find a way to fight back with injection of fresh faces

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 6:00 am
Craig Halkett says Hearts players are playing for their futures

Hearts players are playing for their futures with manager Daniel Stendel seeking new players in January to avoid relegation.

Defender Craig Halkett conceded that anyone not doing their job on the pitch will find themselves dropped as the winter transfer window looms large on the horizon.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Hamilton Academical leaves Hearts three points adrift at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership for Christmas.

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Stendel admitted afterwards he needs new recruits, with Halkett stressing the players do realise the severity of the situation.

"At a massive club like Hearts, if you aren't playing well or doing your job on the park then the manager and people upstairs have every right to say you aren't going to play. Everyone is playing for their future," said the 24-year-old.

"You need to work hard every day in training and you need to put the performance in on a Saturday. From the players' point of view, we've never said: 'Ach, it's only halfway through the season, we've still got 20 games to go.' We are in a relegation battle. We are sitting bottom of the league and three points adrift. It needs sorted quickly."

Hearts host Hibs at Tynecastle Park on Boxing Day and Aberdeen three days later. Halkett hopes seeing the club now detached at the foot of the table will spur colleagues into action after just two wins in the last 26 league matches.

"Hibs is a massive game, not just for the fans," added the centre-back. "Looking at the league table. we need the three points more than ever because we're bottom. If you can't get up for these games then I don't know what games you can get up for.

"I'm really looking forward to it and I hope we are going to bounce back by picking up the three points. We shouldn't be down there. It's as simple as that. We are too big a club to be down anywhere near the bottom of the league.

"We should be up the opposite end. It's hard to look at and it's not a pretty sight. Hopefully it just gives you a shake, if it hasn't already, so we get a reaction and bounce back."

Stendel was unhappy after his third match in charge of Hearts brought the German a third defeat. Mickel Miller and Will Collar put Hamilton 2-0 ahead in the second half before Oliver Bozanic headed a consolation for the visitors.

Stendel admitted the need for fresh faces afterwards. "I think we fought for this result but I think it's better if I don't say too much about the game and about some performances. We can say it's all s**t but we have two games next week and we need to get our heads up," he said.

"I think we need to change things - either with some players coming back or we need some different players. Maybe not everything I want fitted today but we had chances to score and we did not score. The problem is not from the last two weeks but from a long time before.

"Hamilton had a good chance in the first half but after that we controlled the game. Until they scored, there was nothing. We need to block the ball at the first goal and the second goal was the same. I wouldn't say it was just mistakes but you can watch the ball - the goal is still in the centre.

"I can't say any more. I am really disappointed. I take the responsibility for the last two weeks and the last three results but it is very difficult with some performances."