Hearts head coach Ian Cathro refused to comment on speculation linking the club with Scotland defender Christophe Berra – but insists he plans to work through the entire summer to ensure he builds a team that the supporters can be proud of.
The Tynecastle outfit are said to be keen on their former captain, while Rangers are also believed to be interested in the 32-year-old.
Cathro knows his summer recruitment is crucial amid growing unrest from the club’s supporters following an underwhelming start to his first managerial role, with Hearts six points adrift of fourth place St Johnstone and a coveted Europa League place.
Cathro, who is set to welcome his players back for pre-season in mid-June, said: “I won’t be taking any time off during the summer.
“I don’t see a break materialising and the first chance to have a break will probably come in the winter rather than the summer.
“The season has started to shrink. If we do our work properly then I don’t envisage having any time off.
“I may go skiing or something in the winter.
“I would be saying the same thing even if the circumstances were better, more average or worse.
“It is just the way I am.”
Part of Cathro’s summer is likely to entail trying to persuade Berra to re-sign after the centre-half departed English Championship side Ipswich.
The former Newcastle United assistant manager, however, declined to comment on the player.
He added: “There is nothing I want to say about that.
“I know there has been another couple of names thrown in there.
“My stance on this situation is that up until the end of the season I will not pass comment on any speculation no matter how good or how big the story is.
“We will deal with the remainder of the season and then take things from there.”
Cathro will welcome Jordan McGhee back into the squad next season after Middlesbrough decided not to convert the defender’s season-long loan into a £300,000 permanent arrangement.
He added: “All our players who join us on day one of pre-season come with a clean opportunity and will meet me with an open mind. Everybody in that position will be welcome.”
Cathro, meanwhile, insists Rangers are less predicable under Portuguese head coach Pedro Caixinha than they were with Mark Warburton in charge.
Hearts ran out convincing 4-1 winners at Tynecastle the last time the two teams met in February.
Cathro added: “I think one of the things we see which is a bit different is that they’re a little bit more flexible in how they play.
“There’s more likelihood of something being a little bit different, either in the system or a certain role a player’s got.
“There’s a little bit more going on with them than there was before, so it’s more difficult to predict exactly what you’re going to face.
“That’s something that we need to be able to adjust to.”