Craig Levein eager to make room for Niall McGinn

Niall McGinn in action against Hearts during his Aberdeen days. The Tynecastle club have shown an interest in the winger. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Niall McGinn in action against Hearts during his Aberdeen days. The Tynecastle club have shown an interest in the winger. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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Craig Levein has confirmed that former Aberdeen winger
Niall McGinn is on Hearts’ radar. The Tynecastle manager
wants to sign up to five new players in January, but that depends on how many he can ship out.

The priorities are a wide player – possibly two – plus an attacking midfielder, a holding midfielder and a left-back. McGinn is available after terminating his contract with the South Korean club Gwangju.

The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international was wanted by former Hearts head coach Ian Cathro when he left Aberdeen in the summer. However, he headed to East Asia. He failed to settle at Gwangju and started only four matches before severing ties there a few days ago.

Dons boss Derek McInnes has already revealed his interest in taking McGinn back to Pittodrie, and yesterday Levein admitted the player is one of several he is interested in as he prepares for the January transfer window opening.

“It’s a name that has been mentioned. I’ll need to look at what I can do to create some headroom. There’s loads of stuff going on in the background,” he said.

“There are things I would like to do in January to balance the squad. The way I want to play is different from the way Ian did and I don’t think we have the correct balance just now.

“That will have to be addressed, whether it’s in 
January or at the end of the season.

“We need a winger or two, we need an attacking midfield player, we need a defensive holding midfield player, we need a left-back.”

“We need lots of things,” added Levein, who admitted it might not happen in the 
January window “unless I can get some people out”.

Levein praised the Hearts owner Ann Budge for supporting Cathro and predecessor Robbie Neilson during recent transfer windows. Whilst building a new main stand at Tynecastle costing more than £12 million, she has continued providing funds for new players.

“To be fair to Ann, she has been very supportive. You only need to see the amount of players previous managers have been allowed to bring in,” stated Levein. “She has acknowledged that we need to invest on the playing side. We are getting to the point where the stand is nearly open, we still have things to do and the window isn’t open until January. So we have time to have a look and see where we are. Overall she has been very supportive.”

Arnaud Djoum returns from injury for Hearts for tomorrow’s meeting with Partick Thistle and Aaron Hughes is also available. Connor Randall is expected to shake off a knock but Jamie Walker is likely to be restricted to a place on the bench.

Midfielder Chris Erskine returns to the Partick squad but loan striker Conor Sammon is unable to play against his parent club while midfielder Martin Woods is facing a fitness test over an ankle knock.