New striker is top priority for Hearts boss Neilson

A new striker is Hearts' main target this summer as head coach Robbie Neilson prepares for the Europa League qualifiers.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 10:43 am
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson is looking at strikers all the time

Several forwards have already been identified to reinforce the attacking options at Tynecastle ahead of next season.

Provided they finish at least third in the Ladbrokes Premiership, Hearts expect to enter the Europa League first qualifying round on June 30. The early start means preparations are already well underway, part of which is Neilson’s quest to recruit a new striker.

Osman Sow was sold to Henan Jianye last month and Abiola Dauda will return to his parent club Vitesse Arnhem in May. That leaves only Juanma Delgado and Gavin Reilly in the attacking roles. Hearts will bring in at least one new face to increase competition in that department.

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“We’ve been looking at strikers all the time,” Neilson revealed today. “Dauda is here on a loan deal. It would be great to keep him because I think he’s a very good player but, financially, we won’t be able to do it.

“He’ll go back to Vitesse. They paid a lot of money for him and will be looking for a big transfer fee. That’s one we can’t afford. That opens up the opportunity to go and bring in a striker. Everyone is looking for strikers so it’s very difficult.”

Coaching and scouting staff at Riccarton are busily sifting through dozens of players in an attempt to find those both suitable and available to help Hearts in Europe.

“It’s really busy just now. We’re already pretty far along the line with what we want to get,” continued Neilson. “There are a lot of targets out there that we know of. We’ve narrowed it down but names keep coming and we keep whittling it down. John Murray has been out and about, as has Gary Kirk, myself and Stevie Crawford. We look at players all the time.”