Hearts reveal goalkeeping plan and hybrid roles for some players as they await new signings

Three Hearts goalkeepers could feature at first-team level this season as part of a plan to nurture a successor to captain Craig Gordon.

Ross Stewart will remain 39-year-old Gordon’s immediate understudy with Harry Stone starting the campaign in the B team. Stone, 20, may be promoted at times depending on demands and the need to give him top-level football experience.

Although six outfield signings have arrived so far this summer with more to follow, there is no immediate intention at Riccarton to bring in another keeper. Manager Robbie Neilson explained to the Evening News how the goalkeeping positions will work.

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“We've got Craig as No.1, Ross as No.2 and Harry with the B team. Harry can also step up and play with the first team. Both him and Ross are behind Craig,” he said.

“Harry's big thing is going to be game time, that's why he is with the B team. Last season he was on loan at Partick Thistle and didn't really play much. Then he went to Albion Rovers and played a wee bit, ten games or so.

“He needs consistent game time to develop and we hope that at some point he will step forward and push Craig. The B team is great for that sort of thing.”

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Several younger members of the Hearts squad can expect a hybrid role between the first team and B team this season. Connor Smith, Finlay Pollock and even recent signing Lewis Neilson all come into that category.

“We have a few players who will be in between the B team and first team,” continued Neilson. “Connor Smith got three goals at the weekend so that's great for him, Finlay Pollock was suspended so that's why he was involved with us against Stoke.

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Hearts No.1 Craig Gordon with understudy Ross Stewart and goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher.

“Lewis Neilson will flit in between the two, as will Harry Stone, plus a couple of others who can come in and out if we need them.”

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Striker Euan Henderson is being viewed more as a first-team player at this stage. “Potentially he will play B team now and again to get game time but I see him being more with the first-team squad,” added Neilson.

More new signings will arrive before the summer window closes as Hearts pursue a right-sided centre-back, a central midfielder and another creative attacker.

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