FORMER Hearts player Allan Preston has urged his old club to build a new team around a British spine this summer.
Preston reckons the Tynecastle outfit could be looking for as many as a dozen new recruits after the conclusion to the current campaign, which is threatening to end in disappointment after just two wins in their last 11 matches.
Head coach Ian Cathro made nine new signings during the January transfer window but, with most of them on short-term deals, he is expected to rip it up and start again in time for next term.
And Preston is hopeful the Gorgie boss and director of football Craig Levein will target more homegrown talent after being unimpressed by the arrival of the likes of Malaury Martin, Lennard Sowah, Juwon Oshaniwa and Faycal Rherras in recent times.
He said: “Hearts have got a big, big job ahead of them. They’ve got to rip this whole thing up and start again.
“Ian Cathro will be given a lot of time, he’ll be given the finance to bring in eight, 10, 12 players, if possible.
“And he has to get it right.
“I look through the teams that Hearts should be competing with – Aberdeen, St Johnstone – and every single one of those players is British [and Irish].
“Hearts have gone the other way and they are too foreign.
“They don’t know what it’s like to go to Kilmarnock on a freezing cold Friday night.”
“When I played, Hearts had a spine of their team – Gary Mackay, John Robertson, Craig Levein, Tosh McKinlay – who were British-based players who knew what it was like to play for Hearts.
“Hearts went to Easter Road [in the Scottish Cup in February] with eight foreigners in their team, for the first time they had been to Easter Road, in a derby, in a cup tie – and they didn’t respond.”
He added to BBC Scotland: “Foreign players are very good but the spine of your team and the core of your team has to be from Britain, I think.
“And then you can put the quality round about it, three or four bits of genius from overseas.
“But the spine of your team has to be British.”