Hearts manager John McGlynn has stressed the importance of keeping defenders Andy Webster and Marius Zaliukas, despite fears that the club will have to cash in on the pair in January.
Hearts' financial problems have been well documented with the club failing to pay some of their players on time earlier in the season, while this month they agreed a resolution with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in a dispute over tax and national insurance contributions.
Raising funds is currently at the top of the agenda for the club, meaning transfer income and a reduction in their wage bill could be key to their fight for survival. Webster and Zaliukas will be out of contract at the end of the season and so Hearts could be looking to sell them in January rather than lose them for free in the summer.
While McGlynn is aware of the need to offload players, he has admitted he is desperate to hang on to his two defenders for the remainder of the season.
"It's massive for us to keep them. They are the experience in the team and they're both international centre-backs," he told the Daily Record. "You will never actually know how much you appreciate them until they aren't there. They do a tremendous job and it would be a blow to lose them.
"I'm not suggesting we will but at the same time if offers come in for players and everyone is happy with them, then it may well be that some players go. I can't say who that will be. The board of directors would firstly need to accept an offer and then the player in question would have to agree to go.
"It's very much ifs and buts at the moment on that issue. But I've got to say that Andy and Marius are the backbone of the team right now and no manager would want to lose that."