The Hibs' boss told The Scotsman: "We have to be mindful of where we are financially, that we have to balance the books as well as bring players in. "When I came in last year we had 29 first-team players, now we probably have 19 or 20.
"That's a big changeover. It's not as big as it was but it has improved in relation to quality. "We haven't brought Ross (Caldwell), Sam (Stanton) and Danny (Harding) in because we feel they might come through but on the basis they will go and push for a place in the team.
"It's a big challenge, a big step-up for them but they have done well at their age levels (they are all still 18). "The next step is to see if they can get into the first team although they've all been involved in nearly all the games. "We firmly believe all three are capable and there's a few others in there close to challenging to play first team football."