Dundee United boss Micky Mellon insists his top players will be going nowhere as he aims to build a squad fit for the Premiership.
Since becoming United’s new manager last week, only Scotland U/18 and former Sunderland goalkeeper Jack Newman has joined Mellon’s ranks.
Key man Calum Butcher is reportedly a target for departed Tangerines gaffer Robbie Neilson at Hearts.
However, that is news to the man who replaced Neilson at Tannadice, with Mellon insisting the English midfielder is firmly in his plans.
Asked if he is aware of Hearts’ interest in Butcher, he said: “Sometimes these meetings are like a game of poker, you can probably see from my face that’s the first time I’ve heard that.
“Like I’ve said many times, there won’t be anything moving out of here if we don’t think it’ll make Dundee United better.
“We want to improve and keep moving the club forward. That’s where we’re at with all our decisions.
“I’m not giving you my poker face that was just one that shocked me.
“We’re on about trying to grow this club so I think the last thing we want to do is dismantle anything.”
Two men who have left to join Neilson at Tynecastle are assistant coaches Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest.
Mellon confirmed they have headed for Gorgie while praising the support of coaches Dave Bowman and Brian Grant in the early days of his reign.
He added: “Lee and Gordon are leaving and, at the minute, I’m blessed to have Dave Bowman and Brian Grant.
“I really mean it, credit to them because they’ve been nothing short of fantastic.
“That enables me to buy some time and make sure I do the right thing when I think about the staff we want to bring in and work with to complement what we already have at the club.
“That decision will be made on whether they improve the football club but because I’ve got the guys around me at the minute there’s no need for me to panic.
“They’re top drawer, brilliant to have around and have great experience.
“I already have a great relationship with them.”
As for bringing in his own backroom team, former Fleetwood Town, Shrewsbury and Tranmere Rovers manager Mellon is expected to call on long-term No 2 Michael Jackson.
Having worked together at the Shrews and Tranmere, it would be a natural fit and an easy transition to life at Tannadice. However, Mellon was keeping his cards close to his chest.
The 48-year-old Scot continued: “I’ve been bought time by the staff here.
“I can sit back and look at it but I will always be very calm with the things.
“I have everything organised and know what needs the button pressed on at the minute.
“Because of the quality of the guys we have here it is not shouting and screaming in my face to make a decision on bringing people in.
“I will wait, get to know the club better, the playing staff and try and make sure I get the right guys in the place to make Dundee United better.”
In terms of adding to the squad, Mellon admits they are hamstrung by not being able to look at trialists due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, he is confident in the players he has at his disposal, insisting they deserve respect as Championship winners.
He revealed: “We can’t have trialists because of COVID-19.
“You can’t trial players unless you test them.
“Then you look at recruitment. Everyone outside of the Premiership in Scotland hasn’t played for three months.
“It’s the same for anywhere outside the English Premier League or Championship.
“The fitness level of our players is way, way beyond that then you have to weigh that up.
“Then if you are bringing in players then he will only have been training on his own – can he catch the rest of the boys up?
“Have we got a better situation with the boys who are fit?
“If somebody is there who I believe will improve us then I will do it but I am quite happy sitting here with the champions.”