Craig Levein’s summer renovation work should mean Hearts’ youngsters will be spared the heavy lifting next season, according to midfielder Don Cowie.
The Jambos boss was forced to turn to a crop of fresh-faced teenagers last year as his Tynecastle squad was hit by a raft of injuries.
Seventeen-year-olds Harry Cochrane, Anthony McDonald and Euan Henderson as well as Jamie Brandon, 20, all impressed as they chipped in to see the Gorgie men through.
But elder-statesman Cowie knows his manager would rather not rely on his Academy graduates quite so much.
And with eight new arrivals having checked in already, he says that will give Levein the luxury of dipping his talented teens into his line-up only when it is totally necessary.
“The new recruits were something we needed,” the 35-year-old told Press Association Sport. “The manager spoke about wanting to improve the depth of the squad.
“We had a lot of injuries last year and had to rely on an awful lot of young players, which was highlighted especially in the last game of the season.
“The manager probably had to play the young players more than he’d have wanted to.
“The young boys will be stronger having had a year’s football under their belt and will be looking forward to getting themselves involved again.
“But it can be difficult after your breakthrough season to carry that on again. That’s the task they have and I’m sure they will step up to it.
“However, people always say it’s best to use young guys sparingly in the early parts of their career so the fact we’ve brought in so many new faces means this season might give the manager the option of picking and choosing when he plays the young boys this year.
“The good thing is that the manager has got the players in early and we’re all going to be together when we come back in next week for pre-season and hopefully we can get used to each other quickly.”
So far Levein has completed deals for Steven MacLean, Bobby Burns, Jake Mulraney, Olly Lee, Uche Ikpeazu, Ben Garuccio, Zdenek Zlamal and Ryan Edwards.
And Cowie is hoping Steven Naismith and David Milinkovic can be tempted back following their impressive loan stints last season.
Genoa are reportedly looking for a £600,000 fee for Milinkovic while Naismith still has 12 months left on his £50,000-a-week Norwich deal.
He said: “David took his time to settle, which was understandable as his English wasn’t that good. But he made progress on that and that coincided with his performances improving.
“He came out of his shell and in the second half of the season he really showed how important for us.
“So it would be great to have him back and if we could get a player of Naisy’s experience and quality that would be massive.
“I spoke to him a lot last season and I got the impression he is at the stage of life where he just wants to enjoy his football.
“He had a difficult spell at Norwich but you could see as time went by when he was up here last season he was enjoying it more and more.”