Craig Levein has two priorities ahead of Wednesday night’s transfer deadline – sign a striker and a midfielder. If he even gets one of the two, the Hearts manager would probably watch the winter window close with a smile of satisfaction
Rumours of Hearts’ interest in the Slovakian internationalist Jakub Sylvestr are unfounded but recruiting a new target man is essential. Cole Stockton and Esmael Goncalves have left Tynecastle so replenishing the forward line is a must.
With foreign clubs monitoring the club’s Northern Ireland internationalist Kyle Lafferty, Levein must be careful he does not end up with only on-loan Steven Naismith as his only recognised striker.
He is working in the background hoping to source the right type of player, having stated that only certain people are capable of coping with the demands of the Scottish Premiership.
Allied to Stockton and Goncalves, winger Jamie Walker, defender Krystian Nowak and full-back Rafal Grzelak have also exited Hearts during this window. That leaves Levein’s squad a little light.
The desire for a specialist holding midfielder may be slightly less important than a forward but, if possible, Hearts hope to find one before the deadline.
The emergence of a clutch of youth academy players helps fill some squad gaps in the meantime.
Harry Cochrane, Andy Irving and Anthony McDonald have stepped up to the first-team plate in recent weeks and are thriving on the opportunity. Levein knows he cannot rely on kids aged 16 and 17 to play 30 games a season. Not yet, at least. Therefore, the desire for more experience is sensible.
The business Levein has done since the start of the month has been largely welcomed by Hearts supporters.
Stockton, Nowak and Grzelak were surplus to requirements, whilst more than £600,000 has been recouped from the sale of Walker to Wigan Athletic and Goncalves to Pakhtakor Tashkent.
That gives the management team some scope to finance new faces if they can source the right candidates. Demetri Mitchell and Steven Naismith have already arrived on loan from Manchester United and Norwich City respectively, plus Danny Amankwaa signed permanently from FC Copenhagen.
Levein isn’t finished there but the clock is ticking if he is to strengthen before the window closes.