Robbie Neilson says he has cash to spend and is still keen to add to his squad, saying the priority remains a striker.
With only a few days of the transfer window left, the Hearts head coach has been linked with an interest in Dundee United’s John Souttar and the capital club is expected to submit a second bid after the opening gambit of just over £100,000 was rejected for the 19-year-old defender, who is out of contract in the summer.
The Tynecastle boss has also been linked with an interest in another Tayside youngster, Craig Wighton, of Dundee, but Neilson says he is unwilling to discuss individuals while they are still contracted elsewhere.
“I think it’s important that we do any business privately and we take it from there,” said Neilson. “A lot of players have been put to us, a lot of good players. There are players at other teams that we’re looking to speak to but I don’t think we should ever comment on players at other teams.
“The January window is a difficult one to deal in. Last season we wanted one in and we did it mid-January with Genero [Zeefuik] and he gave the club a great a lift. This one has been more quiet and it’s been quite difficult to get players in.
“We want a higher quality player as well and that makes it a bit more difficult. I expect things to happen in the next two or three days but if it does not happen I will be more than happy with what I’ve got. I’ve got a good squad, but if there’s someone out there that can give us a lift then we have the finances there to do it.
“We’ve had three or four names put to us striker-wise but it comes down to value for money.”
Having done so well in their first season back in the top flight, challenging near the top and striving to consolidate, there has been interest in a few of Hearts’ key performers. Apart from the loan deal agreed with Rangers for attacker Billy King, there have been no other bids thus far and Neilson says that thanks to the backing from the fans, through sell-out crowds and the Foundation of Hearts, as well as the sound business practices of owner Ann Budge, the club is in a strong position to rebuff offers that do come in, but he says he is also prepared to move on replacements should any bid prove too good to refuse.
“There’s nothing happening at the moment but that could change in the last few days,” he added. “We are lucky we are in the position that we don’t need to sell, so if any player moves on it will be because it is right for the club and right for the player.”
The return of Jamie Walker, who is expected to feature at some stage against Inverness Caledonian Thistle tomorrow, will almost feel like a new signing and the winger will offer the club a boost. According to Neilson the venue is a tough one to go to, the quality of the opposition as well as the conditions contributing to that.
He will also have to reshuffle his defence due to suspensions for both Blazej Augustyn and last weekend’s villain, Igor Rossi. His manager made it clear that he was unhappy with the rash challenge which left Hearts with only ten men for the majority of the Hamilton game, but he says the matter has been dealt with internally and he has faith in the guys who will come in to fill the void.
“The biggest punishment for him is that he will miss the derby,” said Neilson. “That is probably going to be the biggest game of the year so far and the biggest game he would have played in, but now he will miss it because of a moment of losing control. But we have other good players who can come in. We have [Juwon] Oshaniwa, [Jordan] McGhee and Liam Smith and [Prince] Buaben can play in there as well, so we have options.”