Robbie Neilson targets another midfielder for Hearts squad

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson feels his squad needs more cover in midfield
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson feels his squad needs more cover in midfield
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HEARTS are targeting another new midfielder following the capture of Danny Swanson, the Evening News can reveal.

Head coach Robbie Neilson is scouring the free-agent market hoping to sign a versatile central midfielder, who can also cover other positions.

Swanson became Hearts’ sixth signing of the new season last Wednesday, following Blazej Augustyn, Gavin Reilly, Juanma Delgado, Igor Rossi and Juwon Oshaniwa. However, Neilson’s recruitment is not finished. He explained today that there is still room for one more new arrival in midfield.

“I do think we need to add one more to the squad. I’m looking for somebody in the midfield area, a bit of a utility player who can cover several positions,” he said. “That would give us some cover because we don’t have a huge squad. We’ve picked up a few injuries recently and we don’t have the same size of squad as some of the other clubs in the league. We have to make sure that the players we sign can cover different positions.

“We’ve got an eye on a couple of players but it’s getting them in that’s the problem. I’ve spoken to a few but I don’t want to just jump in and take anybody. There are players out there who we could sign today but it has to be the right one. We aren’t going to waste money. I’d rather wait and, if one comes up, great. If not, we’ll just wait until the January transfer window opens up.

“I’ve been looking for the last month, really. I had a little bit of money to use and we brought Swanson in. I always hoped to get another one in as well but it’s just getting the right player. I don’t want to waste money because it’s important we don’t make the wrong decision. Whoever comes in has to give us good value.”

Neilson felt a lack of experienced midfield cover was exposed on Friday night in the 2-0 defeat by Inverness. Morgaro Gomis missed the match due to a family bereavement, whilst Miguel Pallardo was an unused substitute having just recovered from an Achilles injury. That left 17-year-old Sean McKirdy to partner Prince Buaben in the central area.

“You see from the game on Friday that we missed Morgaro and we brought Sean in – a 17-year-old boy making his first league start. That’s great for him and great for the club, I just think we need a wee bit more strength in there at the moment,” continued Neilson.

“Sean has a bit more development time to come. We’ll get him in and out of the team this season but I don’t think he’s ready to be a full starter week in, week out. We need some extra bodies in there and I think one more will do us.”

Hearts have disciplined Oshaniwa for his red card in the Highlands, with Neilson branding him “silly” for lashing out at the Inverness forward Tobi Sho-Silva. The Nigerian was dismissed for violent conduct and now misses Sunday’s match against table-topping Aberdeen and next Wednesday’s League Cup tie at Kilmarnock.

“It’s been dealt with internally. Juwon understands what’s happened and we move on now,” explained Neilson. “I spoke to him about it. He’s just been silly and he knows it’s something you just can’t do. He’s learned his lesson because he’s going to miss out on two big games.

“We play Aberdeen on Sunday in a massive league game, so he’s punished himself. Every player wants to play in big games that are on TV. Juwon is trying to get himself into the Nigerian national team and his national coach will be watching the game, but he’s not involved. That’s probably the biggest punishment he can get.”