Hearts target new midfielder to replace Olly Lee

Hearts have a list of four midfield targets to replace Olly Lee after the Englishman left Tynecastle Park.

Robbie Neilson wants to bring another midfielder to Hearts.

Manager Robbie Neilson and sporting director Joe Savage intend to reduce that number to two before making moves for their second January signing.

They want an attack-minded midfielder who can get into the penalty area and plunder goals to aid the bid for automatic promotion.

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Winger Gary Mackay-Steven arrived on Monday and Hearts still covet a new striker. Lee’s loan move to Gillingham means he has played his last game in Scotland since his contract expires this summer.

That creates a void in the middle of the park which should be filled before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

“Olly did really well for us but he had an opportunity to go back down the road,” said Neilson after Saturday’s 3-1 win at Alloa. “He is half an hour from his family home and his wife wanted to go back down as well. We made a decision to do it early and he goes with our best wishes.

“We are looking to recruit in that area. We need somebody who is going to get forward and get goals. There are a number of players on the list. We have a list of four, we will n arrow that down to two and then try to have a pop at them.”

Andy Irving scored a stunning goal from 20 yards to open the scoring in Clackmannanshire as Hearts moved seven points clear at the top of the Championship.

Neilson is content with how the young midfielder is developing the more aggressive side of his game.

“I’m pleased with the way Andy is progressing,” added the manager. “There’s no doubting his ability on the ball, his left foot is like a wand sometimes. On the physical side of the game and defensive side, I can see him progressing very quickly.

"He is winning tackles and header. They are the basics of being a midfield player but you have to do it. I still think there is quite a bit more to come.”

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