HIBERNIAN are close to agreeing an extended deal for former captain Kevin Thomson after he joined their Spanish training camp.
The 28-year-old is currently a free agent after his short-term deal at Easter Road expired following his appearance in the Scottish Cup final. However, manager Pat Fenlon is “hopeful” a deal will be struck in the coming days.
Thomson could feature against a Gibraltar XI this evening and would be ready to play against Drogheda United or Malmo in Europa League action if he signs.
In his first spell with the club Thomson captained Hibs after emerging through the club’s youth system, eventually leaving in acrimonious circumstances for Rangers in 2007. An injury-hit two-and-a-half years followed at Middlesbrough before he agreed to return to Easter Road in March – playing for free – and featuring in the cup final defeat by Celtic. And it appears likely he will return for the new season.
Fenlon said: “I would be hopeful that we could reach a deal to sign Kevin. Kevin had a couple of other options to train with clubs and he decided to come here with us. He played for nothing last season and it would be great if we could tie him up again.
“He is a good professional and he has good habits and he can teach the young boys a lot and he is just good to have around the dressing room. You need to have good professionals on and off the park to help the youngsters along.”
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Gibraltar Football Association, Richard Manning, insists this evening’s friendly against Hibs is anything but meaningless for Uefa’s youngest international side. The tiny British territory was ratified on 24 May and are in the midst of preparations for their first ever competitive internationals when Euro 2016 qualification kicks off next year.
While Hibs arrive at The Rock merely seeking to build fitness, the encounter is vital for Gibraltar, managed by Allen Bula, as they seek to build awareness of the country overseas and hone their skills ahead of the step up. “We try to entertain as many of these type of matches as possible during the summer period and we are really look forward to it,” said Manning. “They are important to test the players, and are all the more important as we near the Euro 2016 draw on February 23 next year. It has been a phenomenally exciting time ever since we were voted in [to UEFA]. It has been such a boost for everyone in Gibraltar, but especially for the players.
“It is all becoming a more professional set-up and there is a recognition that we have to prepare ourselves for the extremely exciting prospect of competitive internationals.”
As well as being Uefa’s newest nation, Gibraltar is the smallest, with just 30,000 people – 2,000 fewer than San Marino – and 600 registered footballers. They boast just one professional, Liam Walker, a 25-year-old currently on the books of Portsmouth. Yet recent results suggest there is untapped talent, with wins against Notts County, Portsmouth and the Faroe Islands in the last three years.
“There is quality here and there are some really good players. They just need to be given a stage,” added Manning.