Hearts manager Robbie Neilson vowed the club would not go “crazy” in strengthening their squad ahead of the multi-million-pound boost of European group-stage football.
Neilson was preparing for a budget meeting with the Hearts board on Thursday, days after a Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibernian, coupled with securing third place in the cinch Premiership the previous week, ensured qualification for the Europa League play-offs.
Hearts will guarantee themselves about £3million regardless of whether they land in the Europa League or drop into the Conference and there is the scope to make millions more in prize money.
Memories are still fresh at Tynecastle of what can go wrong if cash is spent frivolously with Neilson playing for the club when it was in debt of up to £36million.
He returned for his first spell as manager in 2014 when it had been rescued from liquidation by Ann Budge and the fans, in the shape of the Foundation of Hearts.
When asked about his squad plans for next season, Neilson said: “We will run with a slightly bigger squad. We have one of the smallest, I think we have run with the least amount of players in the league this season.
“We will probably add maybe two or three to that squad but we are not going to go crazy. A couple of young boys will join us as well just to bulk it up.
“It’s a big step forward for us but we need to use it wisely. We can’t chuck it all in one transfer window, we have to grow the club gradually. It’s important we take steps to try and progress the club.
“The club is on a sound footing now, it’s well run, well organised financially, and we have great stability with the Foundation of Hearts and the benefactors.
“We want to continue to progress and European football makes it easier for us to continue that but it’s got to be small steps, we can’t just jump into things.”
Neilson is focused on Sunday’s league game against Dundee United but he was expecting news soon on Craig Halkett’s chances of facing Rangers in the cup final after the defender was carried off with an ankle injury against Hibernian.
“He went to see a specialist and he has gone to see another one,” Neilson said.
“I am still very hopeful, I spoke to him earlier and he is hopeful as well but it will come down to what the specialist says. It just depends on the extent of it.”
Andy Halliday and Stephen Kingsley also went off injured at Hampden.
On Halliday, Neilson said: “He has been carrying a knock for a few weeks. We will assess him before this game but I think it will be a couple of weeks before he is ready, to make sure he is 100 per cent.”
On Kingsley, he added: “He will be assessed on Saturday. It wasn’t too bad. Again, he has been carrying that for three or four weeks. The decision is, do we keep pushing him or do we take a wee step back and let it settle down?”
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