Despite a top-half finish in last season’s Ladbrokes Premiership, better will be expected at Heart of Midlothian in 2018-19.
Craig Levein’s side ended the season 18 points below city rivals Hibernian, but that gap could shrink rapidly with the business Hearts have done so far this summer.
Eight signings have already been secured at Tynecastle, and all offer something extra to the Hearts ranks.
Midfielder Olly Lee was one of the key men in Luton Town’s promotion from EFL League Two last term. The classy playmaker chalked up six goals and five assists en route to the Hatters’ triumph.
Uche Ikpeazu also arrives off the back of an impressive stint down south. The powerful striker isn’t always the tidiest on the ball, but his clinical finishing and aerial presence saw him top-score for Cambridge United last term with 14 goals.
Between the sticks, former Czech Republic international Zdenek Zlamal will offer a reliable presence. Having started three Europa League group stage games for FC Zlin last term, the 32-year-old is still very much at the top of his game.
At the other end of the age spectrum, talented Aussie defender Ben Garuccio arrives after an impressive stint with hometown club Adelaide United. A pacy and creative player, the 22-year-old already has three Australia Under-23 caps.
However, the experienced Levein also understands the importance of players with experience of the Scottish game. That makes the evergreen Steven MacLean and dynamic midfielder Ryan Edwards smart additions.
A handful of players have been released this summer, though none are likely to be missed at Tynecastle.
Squad players like Jack Hamilton and frequent loanee Nikolay Todorov will do well elsewhere, but don’t have the quality to help Hearts push on from last season’s finish.
All in all, things are shaping up nicely for the Gorgie club.
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