Robbie Neilson delighted as Hearts beat Uefa signing deadline

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson described the signing of Robbie Muirhead as 'a great bit of business'.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson described the signing of Robbie Muirhead as 'a great bit of business'.
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Robbie Neilson has expressed his delight at Hearts’ summer recruitment programme as they get ready to complete a hat-trick of new signings.

Scotland under-19 striker Robbie Muirhead penned a one-year deal yesterday after negotiating an early release from Dundee United.

The capture of Muirhead was described as a “great bit of business” by Hearts manager Neilson who also confirmed Irish striker Conor Sammon and Moroccan defender Faycal Rherras will be added to his squad over the next few days.

As they prepare for their opening Europa League qualifier on 30 June, Hearts have been keen to get their business done as swiftly as possible ahead of next Monday’s initial Uefa signing deadline for players to be eligible for the first qualifying round.

Adding another goalkeeper to his squad, to replace veteran Neil Alexander who was released last month, is now Neilson’s remaining priority.

“I don’t need a lot more now,” he said. “I’d like to get a goalkeeper sorted out and after that we’ll just wait. We’ve seen in the last couple of years that, if you wait a bit longer in the window, and even after the window shuts, good players come up.

“So we’re sitting at the moment with a squad I’m comfortable with. There’s a little bit of money to go and get something else if we need to.

“The first European deadline is on 20 June so, outwith the goalkeeping situation, everything else is really in place. I’m happy with what we’ve got.”

Neilson admitted he had not anticipated the chance to finally sign Muirhead, having previously coveted the player before he made his £150,000 move from Kilmarnock to Dundee United 18 months ago.

“I was a wee bit surprised, to be honest, because United paid a fee for him,” added Neilson. “But when you get relegated, you need to make cutbacks and get people out the door. Robbie was one of them and we have managed to get him in.

“I looked at him when he was at Kilmarnock and thought he had real potential. But Dundee United came in and paid £150,000 for him, which we weren’t in a position to do. For him to be available on a free 18 months later, it’s a great bit of business for us.

“Hopefully, Connor Sammon and Faycal Rherras are just about over the line too. We hope to get things tied up with them tomorrow and go from there.”

The arrivals of Muirhead and Sammon also prompted 
Neilson to sanction a season-long loan for Gavin Reilly to Dunfermline. “Gav needs to go and score some goals,” he said. “With Connor and Robbie joining Juanma here, and possibly another striker to come in later in the window, it would take Gav’s game time down a bit. Allan Johnston worked with him before at Queen of the South and was desperate to get him. There’s a wee bit of pressure there at a team who will be trying to challenge for the league, so it’s a good move for him.”