There are options for Hearts both in January and in the summer
Hearts have lots of problems with the first-team squad and anyone wishes to take exception to that should refer to the Ladbrokes Premiership table, which sees the club rock bottom, three points from their nearest rivals and four points from safety. It is therefore no staggering revelation to say this unit needs major surgery in the January window.
One position which requires attention is that of goalkeeper. This was also true in the summer, but the signing of Joel Pereira from Manchester United on loan has not improved matters. Or if it has, the difference has been negligible.
The Portuguese even found himself dropped for a couple of games, only to quickly be reinstated when it was discovered Zdenek Zlamal was still suffering from the same yips which cost him as job as No.1 earlier in the campaign. Colin Doyle - currently sidelined by a fractured ankle - didn't do enough to suggest he was the answer in reserve of Zlamal last season, so Hearts arrived at a situation where they had two senior goalkeepers signed beyond next summer and none of whom were playing.
Of course, adding another keeper in January isn't exactly going to help on that front, but it doesn't detract from the need for someone dependable at the position. The goals against tally is steadily increasing and that isn't just down to the defence. Most shots on target seem to go in.
The club should be casting their net far and wide to find the right player, but there are a few names closer to home who they should be considering.
Craig Gordon (Celtic)
This would get fans excited. Gordon was exceptional in first spell at Hearts, becoming Scotland's undisputed No.1 and winning the Writer's Player of the Year award at the end of the famous 2005/06 season before eventually leaving in a club record £9 million move to Sunderland.
His career didn't quite reach the heights expected of it, thanks mainly to injury, but he's shown since returning to Scotland with Celtic that he remains an impressive stopper.
Even at the age of 37, as he will be in January, he'd still represent an improvement for his former club. With his Celtic career almost certainly at an end, as his contract runs down as the No.3 keeper behind Fraser Forster and Scott Bain, Hearts may be able to secure a loan deal. If Gordon isn't motivated by earning the cash owed on the last six months of his lucrative contract, they may even be able to convince the Parkhead side to release the player six months early.
Gordon would have to take a significant wage drop to swap Glasgow's East End for his boyhood club, but given his emotional connection and advancing age, he'd be a far more likely bet than Rangers No.2 Wes Foderingham, for example, who'll definitely be looking for a move to the English Championship when his deal expires in the summer.
Trevor Carson (Motherwell)
Carson is Motherwell's No.2 through bad luck, only. The Northern Irishman was impressive between the sticks for the Fir Park club until he was struck down with deep vein thrombosis.
The condition threatened to end his career. Thankfully, that turned out not to be the case, though it did cost him his starting role at Motherwell with Mark Gillespie impressing in his place.
Carson was the subject of a failed bid from Celtic in January last year, while he's also received international recognition. Austin MacPhee, the man helping out with recruitment, will be aware of him from Northern Ireland. Livingston are said to be chasing his services, and Aberdeen have been credited with an interest in making him back up to Joe Lewis. With as much respect as possible to those clubs, Carson should be aiming higher for his comeback and, if there are no adverse effects lingering from his illness, Hearts should seriously think about making him an offer.
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell)
Why go for the second in command when you could chase the top dog? Gillespie has been excellent since replacing Carson and should be considered alongside the likes of Vaclav Hladky and Ofir Marciano in the second tier of outstanding goalkeepers behind the elite of Forster and Allan McGregor in Scottish football.
He is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has so far resisted attempts to get him to sign a new one. Hearts can offer more money than the Steelmen and that could be enough to persuade the 27-year-old to move from Lanarkshire.
Vaclav Hladky (St Mirren)
His penalty heroics against Dundee United in the Premiership play-off final boosted Hladky's profile significantly and he's regularly talked about as one of the league's best. Rangers have previously been credited with an interest, while the player has made it known that it would take something very special to convince him to remain in Scotland beyond this summer.
Therefore, it's unlikely Hearts would have much joy if they pursued him. But what's wrong with asking the question?
Moving to Gorgie would certainly represent an increase in wages and provide him with a better platform to attract interest from elsewhere. If the type of offer that Hladky envisions doesn't come in the early days of the January window then he may be more open to interest from the SPFL.
Jamie MacDonald (Kilmarnock)
Another ex-Hearts keeper who would be available this summer. Seeing as the 2012 Scottish Cup-winning custodian is out of the picture at Kilmarnock, on loan at Alloa Athletic and will turn 34 before the season's end, this one may not excite supporters as much as one or two of the other names on this list? But is Jamie Mac still a better option than Pereira, Zlamal and Doyle?
I'll answer that for you - yes, yes he is.
Adam Davies (Stoke City)
Without wishing to trawl through Wyscout to bring you an array of unfamiliar names whose goals conceded far outperforms their Expected Goals Against, here's a name that would make perfect sense as a signing for Hearts and manager Daniel Stendel. The German coach worked with Davies at Barnsley, where the Welshman was the No.1 during the club's promotion last term. He moved to Stoke City in the summer but hasn't played a single second for the Potters.
We know MacPhee is looking at Stoke City players as he looks to utilise his connection with Michael O'Neill, so this is somebody who should already be on Hearts' radar.