Robbie Neilson explains Hearts' transfer plans ahead of deadline day - plus injury info on Devlin, Smith and Hill
Robbie Neilson does not expect any players to leave Hearts before Tuesday night’s transfer deadline, but he is trying to secure one more signing over the next 48 hours.
Callum Paterson is the intended target but Hearts also have other options if they cannot convice Sheffield Wednesday to sell. Midfielder Connor Smith joined Hamilton on loan and striker Euan Henderson made a similar move to Queen’s Park over the weekend, however Neilson does not anticipate any senior players departing this month.
“We are still trying to get one more in but, as we’ve said, it has to be somebody of quality who can improve the squad. We are working on a couple but whether we get one we will wait and see,” said the manager after Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Livingston.
“I don't think there will be any outs. We might move some of the younger ones out on loan for development, and maybe when the window shuts we will consider moving a couple more. At the moment, we are keeping the first team together.”
Hearts extended their unbeaten run to ten games with a point in West Lothian, but midfielder Cammy Devlin was forced off with a hamstring issue during the first half. He will be assessed for Wednesday’s match against Rangers. “He has a tight hamstring and he was keen to play on but we just felt that if it goes then he is out for six weeks,” said Neilson. “It was a precaution and hopefully it will settle down. We will see how he is for Wednesday.”
Michael Smith and James Hill both missed the game as Hearts made five changes from the team that beat Hibs 3-0 at Easter Road. “We had a couple of them with bugs and Michael Smith and James Hill had injuries from last week,” said Neilson. “A couple of them find it difficult to play on that [astroturf] surface and then play again two or three days later so we just felt it was important to, yes, try to win this, but also try to make sure we have guys ready for Wednesday.”
Japanese forward Yutaro Oda – making his first Hearts start – and Australian teenager Garang Kuol both failed to convert clear scoring chances either side of half-time. Neilson refused to condemn either player and admitted the match was far from a classic.
“The important thing is that they're there. They are coming in from different continents and it is a difficult place to come. We kinda threw them in at the deep end but they did well. Oda hasn't played since November so we knew we’d only get a half or 50 minutes, and Garang showed some real pace, quality and sharpness.
“That game isn’t one that will make the christmas DVDs. There was no football in it at all, really. It was a difficult one to play in but its always the same when you come here. You have to take the opportunities when they arise. We had two of them, one in the first half and one at the start of the second. If you don't take them then you don't deserve to take three points.
“You go into every game wanting to win it and we had a couple of chances we didn’t take. It’s another point on the board and it could be an important point come the end of the season. Plenty of clubs will come here and find it very difficult.”