Neilson confident after Hearts’ signing spree

The Petrofac Training Cup visited Riccarton yesterday as Robbie Neilson looked ahead to Hearts' tie with Annan. Picture: SNS
The Petrofac Training Cup visited Riccarton yesterday as Robbie Neilson looked ahead to Hearts' tie with Annan. Picture: SNS
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HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson admits he is not actively seeking any more fresh faces after recruiting eight new players during a productive summer signing spree.

The Tynecastle side are at home to Annan Athletic for tomorrow’s first competitive game of the season in the Petrofac Training Cup first round.

New recruits Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben, Alim Ozturk, Osman Sow, Neil Alexander, James Keatings and Scott Gallacher are likely to be included in the matchday squad, while Soufian El Hassnaoui is still recovering from a groin operation.

Hearts were in dire need of reinforcements after last summer’s crippling plunge into administration left Neilson’s predecessor Gary Locke with a skeleton squad that was propped up by youngsters.

But Neilson, who allowed Jamie MacDonald, Ryan Stevenson, Jamie Hamill and Dylan McGowan to leave the club this summer, has declared himself satisfied with his dealings in the transfer market and insists there is still room for more new additions before the window closes at the end of August.

The former Hearts captain said: “There is probably not any more space for new players at the moment, but I’m quite happy with what we’ve got.

“If I need to get one or two in, I might be able to do it but it will probably be towards the end of the window.

“It’s a busy summer, but we had to make a lot of changes. We wanted to bring them in early as well because it gives them a chance to get used to the players, the way we want to play and the environment as well.

“You want to bring players in that are better than the ones here or that have left, and I think we’ve done that.

“We’ve got everything in before the season starts, but there is room there if we do need to get someone else in. At the moment we don’t really need to do that.”

Neilson and director of football Craig Levein have also been busy in tying down the club’s highly-rated youngsters on fresh terms this summer.

Sam Nicholson, Callum Paterson, Gary Oliver, Jamie Walker and Jason Holt have all had their respective deals extended.

Neilson hopes they all have a big part to play in helping Hearts try to bounce straight back to the Premiership at the first attempt.

Neilson added: “It’s great that a lot of the younger boys have committed themselves to the club for a few years.

“It’s pleasing, they want to be part of it and they can see what we’re trying to do.

“They have a big future at this club, there are some really good young players in the first team just now, then there are others coming through in the under-20s and in the Academy.”

Neilson, meanwhile, insists his long association with the club will ensure he will not be unnerved as the 34-year-old prepares to make his competitive dugout debut against the League 2 outfit on Saturday.

The former right-back made 249 appearances for Hearts during his 13 years in Gorgie, and was even honoured with a testimonial.

Neilson added: “I’m in a good position that I’m used to the environment at Tynecastle. I was there for a long time as a player.

“I don’t really get overawed with anything from that point of view. I focus day to day, you try and plan and work really hard and look to the next game.

“When you’re a coach it’s about winning games so I must give the players the best opportunity to do that.”