Hearts want to avoid another mass overhaul of their playing squad in January, although manager Craig Levein has admitted some alterations are essential.
The Tynecastle club signed nine players last winter and Levein has no wish to repeat such an extensive recruitment drive in the forthcoming transfer window.
His plans are more modest this year as he seeks to strengthen his team with a left-back, a winger and a creative midfielder.
Aaron Hughes, Andraz Struna, Lennard Sowah, Moha Choulay, Dylan Bikey, Malaury Martin, Esmael Goncalves, Alexandros Tziolis and Tasos Avlonitis all arrived in Gorgie last January – but only Hughes, Martin and Goncalves stayed beyond the summer.
“No that’s not going to happen again,” said Levein, pictured. “The point is we have a little bit of time to find out exactly what we need in January. Obviously we need to make sure we move one or two out to create some headroom as well for bringing players in. We need to fix some things, that’s apparent.
“There’s an imbalance in the squad in a couple of areas. Once I get a left-back, and no disrespect to Michael Smith, he’s doing the best he can but it’s not his position. We don’t get the same balance down that side of the field, we don’t have a left-back or left winger.”
Levein admitted his team are not scoring enough goals. Hearts have found the net just 13 times in 14 Ladbrokes Premiership games so far this season. All bar one of those fixtures was away from Tynecastle Park while the club rebuilt their main stand, which opened last Sunday.
Asked if his team are potent enough in attack, Levein replied: “No. It’s hard sometimes to make people feel really confident and good in themselves by flicking a switch. That’s difficult to do.
“We had a lot of problems, a lot of changes and all the away matches and there’s been a lot of things that have happened to the players this season that have been difficult to deal with. They’re not feeling at their absolute best just now.
“I think it’s harder to score goals than it is to help the team to stop losing goals. If you don’t lose goals then you have a chance of picking up points.”
Hearts host Ross County tomorrow and Levein remains confident that, in time, his players will flourish to become more free-scoring. “Of course, that’s why I came back into the job, because I can see it,” he said. “Once everything is fine and fixed and financially we are back on an even keel, we’ll be in a brilliant place. We have got a whole load of excellent players coming through.
“I see my job in the next couple of years being to get us as high up the league as possible. And that will probably be by making good decisions in transfer windows and such like.
“That’s still to come, so we’ve still to get to that point.”
After a season of turmoil, Levein believes his club can finally return to normality over the winter period.
The director of football returned to the dugout in September to replace sacked head coach Ian Cathro – with Jon Daly in temporary charge for four weeks in between.
Management and players only returned to Tynecastle against Partick Thistle last weekend after two delays to the stadium’s reopening. Levein stressed the most tumultuous period should now be in the past.
“The worst of it is over and now we’re back dealing with normal stuff,” he said.