Ahead of Heart of Midlothian's previous Premiership encounter against Ross County, it was put to Steven Naismith that he probably isn't very good at poker as he tried to work around a question on Yan Dhanda, the playmaker who is set to move to Tynecastle Park in the summer.

The Hearts head coach agreed with the observation as he gave a knowing smirk. Fast forward two weeks and Naismith knew he'd be back on the spot regarding Livingston defender James Penrice and Motherwell midfielder Blair Spittal who are understood to have signed pre-contract agreements.

Despite both David Martindale and Stuart Kettlewell speaking on the proposed deals, Naismith, understandably, refused to be drawn on specific players. However, he provided insight into his and the club's way of thinking with recruitment, noting planning ahead is something he has been "really keen to do".

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"It's not a case of getting to November and December and starting to think about the January transfer window," Naismith said. "It's continuous and it needs to be. It needs to work a year or two ahead and as a club that's what we need to do. You have to predict a bit about what's going to happen with certain positions and individuals and how we can improve.

"For us to get to that next level, you constantly have to improve. For the guys in the squad already, that also drills home the element of competition."

Naismith has spoken to Hearts Standard previously about the conversations he has had with previous managers or former teammates now involved in management regarding recruitment. But if there was one particular coach who left a lasting impression in the area it is David Moyes from their time together at Everton.

The Hearts boss recounted conversations he had with members of the recruitment team who said "Moyes would go and watch a player 20 times in a season" and "go on midweek trips in Europe to watch players".

"We do a lot of work every day on recruitment," Naismith said. "I've probably taken it from asking a lot of managers about it. The best for me was David Moyes.

"The research and the homework he did on signings was massive. That's why he did so well. Bringing guys like Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka in and helping them become internationalists. Good foreign players as well that helped kick his teams on to the next level.

"That's all down to hard work and it's about having that as a separate thing to the football club."

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Naismith is striving to ensure there is not a huge turnover of players, something he remembers as being "unsettling" during his time at Tynecastle Park as a player. In addition, there is a desire to get players in the door sooner rather than later with a view to having them bedded in ahead of what could be a demanding calendar with European football.

"In an ideal world, that's what you do," he said. "Football isn't as simple as that and the options available at the start of the window aren't always the same at the end.

"In the two windows I've dealt with, that's been a big difference. The summer window we were late getting players in for one reason or another. In January we identified what we needed and we went out and got it done early. 100 percent that makes a difference. The quicker you've got players, they're at ease in their surroundings quicker.

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"We do a good job when we're speaking to players of giving them a full picture of what is coming. I want to paint a clear picture, not a smoke and mirrors one that promises the world and then when they get in the door they're trapped. You need to tell them what the facilities are that we've got, what the stadium is like and then ultimately they then make the decision they will."

The activity so far doesn't mean Hearts will be going with a big squad next season. Naismith explained why.

"We've got youth players here and it gives them an opportunity," he said. "It's harder to keep a full squad engaged and motivated when they can't see an opportunity. I don't think the size of our squad will massively change.

"We might improve it by one or two in terms of numbers but we've got some good young players that will get opportunities if we make European football as well."