Lawrence Shankland Hearts transfer exit gives me fear of death and £3m won't be enough for what I want – Ryan Stevenson

Hearts losing Lawrence Shankland this summer puts the fear of death into me. It really does.

He is currently away with Scotland at the Euros and it is brilliant to see him involved. I want him to do well for the country and for Hearts. And there is no doubt he deserves to be out in Germany. However, the bottom line is Hearts can’t afford to let him go as he enters the final year of his contract. He scored 31 goals last season and also had eight assists and he is frankly irreplaceable.

Hearts tried to get him on a new deal which was shelved until the summer but I don’t see any announcements coming soon. If it wasn’t for Lawrence we wouldn’t be talking about looking forward to European football after finishing third in the league. I have been pondering his possible replacement if he does up sticks this summer but there is nobody who really sticks out.

Okay, Hearts could go and spend £2 or £3 million but it might not be the right person. It would be a risk and if the money is there I would break the bank to keep Lawrence and also bring in a younger striker who can learn from him. He has every right to keep his options open but if Hearts have a kitty of money there then you are better throwing it at somebody who is tried and trusted and you know will do the job.

Even if he has a bad season he will still get 15 goals. That is guaranteed. The two positions we really need to strengthen are at right back and up front, regardless of the situation with Lawrence. I still feel we need somebody else to help him. At right-back we have signed Daniel Oyegoke from Brentford and could also bring in the Costa Rican Gerard Taylor.

During games last season when we were under pressure or the team were struggling, I always felt that teams picked us off down our right-hand side. I don’t think we have had a decent right back since Michael Smith left.

Hearts have done their homework, though. I think, in the main, over the last two or three years our signings have been pretty good. Oyegoke knows the British game. Taylor would be a bit more of an unknown, a player coming in from Costa Rica but the good thing is that Kenneth Vargas is already here. He can help his countryman with the transition and help him settle.

Up until Christmas, Vargas was pretty inconsistent but he looked a far better player in the second half of the season. He and Allan Forrest combined really well last season. Taylor would have that safety net of having Vargas beside him at Hearts as it takes time to settle in to a new country and a new league.

I actually think it makes good sense for Hearts to go back into that Costa Rica market. A few clubs have took over a few guys from the Japanese market recently and it helps having two or three players from the same country.

I think Hearts have to splash the cash and have a bigger squad this season. It is too much of a risk to opt for a smallish squad because they have to play Thursday and Sunday due to their involvement in European football. You need to have strength in depth because you are going to pick up injuries, there will be losses in form and results might tail off.

You need players there who are ready to come in and are of similar quality to those who are starting. As well as a sprinkling of foreign players, I have always believed Hearts should have the nucleus of Scottish guys with Premiership experience.

Guys like James Penrice, Yan Dhanda and Blair Spittal have that. These guys can add a bit of sparkle, as well as a couple of international signings, and if they do well then I feel that is the right mix for Hearts.