Hearts' transfer window: Strong 30-man squad must deliver even if some players are unhappy

Monday night's transfer deadline left Hearts with a significantly stronger squad than last season despite their current lowly league position.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 10:37 am
The Hearts squad is significantly stronger after summer business

In that sense, the summer window represents success on paper. The challenge now is integrating new recruits and using their capabilities to ensure success on the field.

Signing Craig Halkett, Conor Washington, Jamie Walker, Steven Naismith, Loic Damour, Glenn Whelan, Joel Pereira (on loan) and Ryotaro Meshino (on loan) no doubt represents good business. Washington, Naismith and Whelan are all experienced internationalists, Halkett has been touted for a Scotland call-up as one of the country's outstanding centre-backs, while Walker's return brought a local talisman back home.

Damour's experience in France and England would enhance most Premiership midfields. Getting goalkeeper Pereira and forward Meshino from Manchester United and City respectively guarantees quality. All of the above will play key roles for Hearts over the coming months as the club strive to climb the Premiership table.

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Management are content with the playing staff and did not feel the need to supplement it further on deadline day. Therefore, Tynecastle Park remained quiet throughout Monday afternoon and into the evening. Perhaps the more intense activity was up the road at Riccarton as coaches try to decide how to keep a 30-man squad happy.

The numbers fell slightly with Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald joining Dunfermline on loan last week, and Olly Lee making a similar move to Gillingham. David Vanecek, Arnaud Djoum, Marcus Godinho, Conor Sammon and Conor Shaughnessy had all departed over the summer but manager Craig Levein is still left with a sizeable number wanting first-team game time.

Automatic starters like Naismith, Halkett, Washington, Michael Smith and Christophe Berra need not fret too much, but there are others on the fringes of Hearts' squad who could face a difficult few months. Between now and January, some will doubtless be considering their futures and whether they should move - at least on loan - to play more regularly.

Young Irish striker Aidan Keena falls into that bracket, as does the versatile Northern Irishman Bobby Burns. Both players would get into many teams in Scotland's top flight. Czech Goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal is now third choice having started the season as No.1 - a result of a couple of mistakes allied to Pereira's arrival. Striker Steven MacLean, at 37, remains a hungry and enthusiastic competitor who simply wants to be on the field.

Reserve games alone won't satisfy them all, so Hearts' coaching staff may need to employ some top man-management skills to keep their spirits up. That will be high on the agenda for those in charge. The absolute priority will be using the strength and experience now at their disposal to try to rouse Hearts from their early-season slumber.

The transfer window is closed and it is time for all concerned to deliver.