Ian Cathro admits Hearts had to sign English striker Cole Stockton now to avoid being priced out of the market for the 23-year-old.
Cathro, the club’s head coach, believes Stockton would become too expensive if Hearts had waited on him developing over the next season or two.
Instead, they lured him north from English National League side Tranmere Rovers hoping he will flourish during a two-year contract at Tynecastle.
Cathro explained that one of Hearts’ recruitment policies is to sign potential before it becomes too costly. “When we’re looking at recruitment, we need to be able to access players early on in their careers so that we can actually afford them. Cole is someone who, in three or four years, we won’t be able to afford,” he told the Evening News.
“He’s a young player who has matured quite a lot in the last six to nine months. He’s ready to make the type of progress that we’ve seen with some other players who have come up to this league at the same stage in their career.
“We want to be more active in that part of the market. We’re getting him in a little bit earlier on, so we’re trying to see the talent before it has fully come to life. By that point, we aren’t going to be able to bring it here. It won’t be possible.
“It’s potential at the moment and Cole falls into that category. His hunger is clear, that’s the stage he’s at in his career. With players at his age, if you wait to see, you won’t get him.”
Stockton’s jump from non-league football in England to Scotland’s top flight is something Hearts believe he can handle. “We’ve made an assessment of the player and his qualities. We’ve looked at the stage he’s at, what he’s come through, his focus, his attributes, and we think he’s a player who can make a lot of progress,” added Cathro.