Robbie Neilson opens up on Hearts' transfer window plans and drops hint over number of incomings

Hearts are going to benefit financially from their Australian stars’ extended stay in Qatar, but manager Robbie Neilson does not anticipate blowing that on an abundance of transfer dealings in January.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has taken his squad away to train in Spain.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has taken his squad away to train in Spain.

As it is, the return of so many injured players means he is already readying himself for some selection conundrums when the Premiership action gets back underway in a couple of weeks.

Numbers have be scant at times as the squad was stretched thin by a host of long-term absentees and an unrelenting run of fixtures, at home and on European businesses, but with several making their comebacks ahead of the World Cup break and others preparing to join them after the Qatar showpiece makes way for the bread and butter of domestic matches, he expects to have a “decent sized squad”.

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“I don't expect it to be busy,” he said of the transfer window. “Maybe one or two. We built it up for Europe, though we did get a few injuries which deflated it a wee bit. By the time that comes back I don't think we'll need much. Training wise we were sometimes down to 14 players, even 12 at times. To get that back into the 20s is good.”

While he understands that some players will be disappointed as competition for places hots up, the flip side of that is that he will have greater options during games. “Even just turning to the bench, you're going to be bringing on quality for quality,” Neilson continued. “We were sometimes bringing a player off and the level was coming down a little but if we get more injuries we should have most of the boys back so we can cover.

“It's about just being able to change things. We've asked a lot of guys like Alex Cochrane, who has played almost every minute, Barrie McKay is the same, and it's difficult for players even though they've done so well for us. Stephen Kingsley was the same before his injury and that's one of the reasons he got injured, because we pushed him so hard. Getting back to that depth of squad will make a big difference for us. Players just have to compete on the training field and be ready. Then you pick the ones you think are going to win you the game.”