Hearts manager Craig Levein wants to add three attackers to squad
Hearts plan to sign three attacking players over the coming weeks to reinforce their forward line for the new season.
Steven Naismith returns to Riccarton with the rest of the squad this morning for pre-season testing, and two others are also on the club’s radar.
The focus is on strengthening attacking areas after Livingston centre-back Craig Halkett became the first summer arrival. Hearts can’t afford mistakes with new recruits following David Vanecek’s ill-fated spell in Edinburgh and are looking predominantly at British players.
They have not made an approach for Ayr United’s Lawrence Shankland or the former Colchester United striker Mikael Mandron. Interest in the ex-MK Dons forward Chuks Aneke has cooled, while Leeds United winger Jay-Roy Grot has yet to decide if he is keen on a loan move to Tynecastle Park.
Other targets are being pursued as manager Craig Levein looks to add to the Halkett signing.
“Craig will come in and there will be another three or four, and that will be it. I’m quite comfortable with the rest of the group, provided we don’t lose anybody else,” the manager told the Evening News.
“I feel there is a solidity to the team. My main focus after Craig is bringing three attacking players in. I’ve got a few things on the go on that front. We have the trip to Ireland coming up but I won’t know exactly who is going with us until closer to the time.”
Naismith will report for the start of pre-season today as he waits to complete a permanent move from Norwich City. He spent the last 18 months in Gorgie and his current loan agreement expires on June 30 - the same day as his Norwich contract.
He will then become a free agent but is expected to join Hearts, although it could be a number of weeks before a deal is completed. The 32-year-old recently stated he is in no major rush and advised any unsettled Hearts supporters to “relax”.
Complicating the matter is the fact he will be due an extra month’s wages from Norwich if he remains a free agent through July. That payment applies in England to cover out-of-contract players. It would equate to more than £150,000 for Naismith and may be why he is content to wait.
Last season ended prematurely for the Scotland internationalist due to a knee injury, so he will be eased into Hearts’ summer programme gently. Uche Ikpeazu, Steven MacLean, Craig Wighton and Aidan Keena are the other forwards already at the club competing for places.