With Hearts announcing the signing of Northern Ireland international Conor Washington, Craig Levein’s Hearts squad is set to be shaken. One player whose future may be in doubt following Washington’s arrival is Olly Lee.

You may think ‘How can a striker signing mean that a central midfielder’s future is in doubt?’. But it is down to squad numbers as to why Lee’s Hearts career has been brought into question.

It’s a numbers game

Sean Clare was the previous number nine at Tynecastle. But, as Washington has taken his number, that means he’ll have to look elsewhere for a new one. As appears in a recent Twitter picture, it appears the former Sheffield Wednesday man will take up Olly Lee’s number eight.

Has ‘Clare 9’  become ‘Clare 8’? (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

What can Lee offer that nobody else can?

Lee is similar to a few central midfielders that Hearts have. His counterpart Peter Haring is expected to sit in front of the back four, with him being a central defender by default.

Oliver Bozanic, Arnaud Djoum and Harry Cochrane appear to be neither defensive or attacking midfielders. And this is the ilk that Lee comes under.

Peter Haring and Harry Cochrane are two midfield maestros that Lee is in competition with. (photo by Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Lee’s squad number may previously have been misleading

With his previous number eight jersey on, you’d expect him to act as a more advanced midfielder. But this isn’t always the case.

Just three league goals last season prove that with his last coming way back in January, a 2-1 home defeat to relegated Dundee.

His derby day winner in December was the most notable of Lee’s three league goals last season. (photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

While he may not have contributed as many goals as he’d have liked (3), he registered more league assists last season than any other Hearts player (6). There is clearly something there; Lee can contribute.

When Hearts release their squad number list, and if we don’t see his name, only then can we jump to conclusions.

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