Robbie Neilson hopes to sign Hearts transfer targets early

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson likes to meet players as part of his assessment

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson likes to meet players as part of his assessment

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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson is hoping to wrap up his transfer business early after opening talks with several targets - but accepts he might have to be patient.

Hearts begin their Europa League campaign on June 30 and Neilson would prefer to have new players on board by then.

Neilson, whose team host Ross County on Saturday, said: “We’re always looking for good players no matter what position, but there are three or four positions that I think we will need to strengthen.

“We have got targets and we have spoken to some players and are pretty well on with them. Whether we get them done in the next few weeks I don’t know, it’s always difficult.

“Good players have interest from a lot of clubs, but we will hopefully get them in early to prepare for next season.

“The window opens on June 9 so hopefully we bring them in because we are back on June 15.

“But it’s difficult to do it and towards the end of the transfer window is when a lot of good players become available because they have missed out on moves elsewhere.”

Hearts may have to do without Perry Kitchen for their early European games after the midfielder was named in a provisional 40-man United States squad for the Copa America, which takes place on June 3-26.

Jurgen Klinsmann will name his final squad on May 20 but Neilson would not complain if his recent signing made the final cut.

“We would be delighted if he did,” Neilson said. “He has managed to get in a 40-man squad which I think they then cut down to 23 or 24. So he will go and meet up with them.

“It’s great for him, it’s great for the club that we have a player of that calibre here.

“To have a player, not just at Hearts, but in Scottish football involved in the Copa America would be great.”

Kitchen’s arrival in January was the latest in Hearts’ imaginative use of the international transfer market and Neilson aims to keep building a squad capable of competing with Celtic.

And he took further encouragement from his former club Leicester’s title success.

“It’s great for football, not just for Leicester,” the said. “You can build a team for a lot less money than other teams and still compete.

“It’s not just this season, it’s been building for four or five seasons, the coaching staff and the scouting team.

“The players speak about it themselves and see what you need for success, and first and foremost at Leicester it’s about hard work.

“I was down a couple of months ago to have a chat and watch a couple of players, and I speak to the scout about players now and again.”

Neilson will also look to the future when Hearts take on County, although he insists Hearts cannot slack off despite knowing they will finish third in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

“Playing at Tynecastle in front of a full house, there is no room for complacency and the players know that,” he said.

“The most important thing is to win these next three games but I’d like to try and get some of the guys some game time. There are guys I think will have big futures with us and this is a chance to put them in.”

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