Injury situation accelerates Daniel Stendel's plans for Hearts recruitment
Manager unsure when four long-term victims will return
Daniel Stendel has already decided he must strengthen his Hearts squad in January because he remains unsure about the fitness levels of key quartet Steven Naismith, Peter Haring, John Souttar and Conor Washington.
Naismith hopes to feature in Saturday’s match away to Hamilton Accies but has been heavily plagued by injuries for the past 14 months, while the German currently has no idea if will be able to call on any of the other three long-term injury victims when the campaign resumes after the winter break with a Scottish Cup tie against Airdrieonians on 18 January.
“A lot of important players have long-term injuries and at the moment we have a lot of players who have no idea if they can play in January,” said the manager. “This is a big question mark for us, especially for the transfer window. When you have the feeling 'okay, they're all back in January', it's easier to say 'okay, we keep the squad, it's good enough' - but we need more quality."
Stendel is renowned for playing a high-pressing style but he explained that he is currently in no position to cast any player aside - even if they aren’t suited to his way of playing. He is eager to inject more quality and energy to his squad in January in order to allow the team to play with a higher intensity.
“If you look at the squad at the moment and which players are fit, you cannot say this player can play this way or not, or that this player has more experience - these are the players we have at the moment,” he explained. “We try to give our best when we are training although there is not much time. But, yeah, we need more quality on the pitch.
“Energy is also a quality and every player must take responsibility for their fitness and be able to play for 90 minutes with full power. When you cannot play your best game you have to give all you can give during that 90 minutes, to run, to work, to tackle, to win headers. These are the basics, it doesn’t matter what style you want to play.
“You could see on Saturday we missed a bit of power over the 90 minutes and it is difficult to change that when you have a midweek game. But this is the situation. We need players with legs in the team but when I have other players who can play better, then the other players will play.”