Colin Calderwood expecting a stormy start to season
The Easter Road side begin their Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign tomorrow with a home fixture against Celtic and the former Nottingham Forrest manager is expecting a difficult start.
Calderwood has lost more than a dozen players from his squad and has brought in three - former Hibs players Garry O'Connor and Ivan Sproule, and Sean O'Hanlon from MK Dons.
O'Connor has the burden of leading the line on his own with Akpo Sodje out for about a month with a knee injury.
Calderwood had hoped to bringing in Cillian Sheridan on loan from CSKA Sofia following a trial period but the former Celtic forward joined St Johnstone instead.
The manager is hoping to push through a deal to sign former Forest forward Junior Agogo but the 32-year-old has a slight knock and the deal is yet to be completed.
Now Calderwood expects some tough times in the early part of the season until he can bring in reinforcements. He said: "The aim for the season is European qualification via either the league or the cups. We'll need a real big improvement for that though.
"I can't see us starting the season in the type of form that will take us to that level. What I see is scope in the unit to improve - we'll certainly have to ride out one or two storms through the first half of the season.
"Going into the first game we're not perfect and are a wee bit under-strength but hopefully we can grow as a team.
"We have to deal in the fact we've got a tough opening game and then travel to Inverness which is a difficult place to go.
"Saying that, we hope to take points early on and register a win in our opening three matches."