HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon has played down the chances of former captain Kevin Thomson rejoining the club, insisting he used up his budget in the January transfer window.
But midfielder Tom Taiwo has said that Thomson, a free agent after being released by Middlesbrough, has already had a positive effect at Easter Road thanks to the quality he has shown in training sessions.
Thomson, now 28, left Hibs for Rangers in early 2007, then moved on to Middlesbrough three years later. Injury problems hampered his time on Teesside, and his contract there was cancelled by mutual consent last month.
Hibs agreed to Thomson’s request to train with them as part of his bid to regain fitness, and yesterday Taiwo praised his attitude and ability. “Kevin Thomson is a quality player and he’s looking good,” said Taiwo, who is in Fenlon’s squad for tomorrow’s SPL match at Tannadice. “He only left Middlesbrough about a month ago, but you can just see he’s quality on the ball.
“I’m not sure he’s quite up to fitness yet, but I think that’s what he’s looking for by training with us. I saw him on TV with Rangers a few times and you can tell he’s a great player. He’s played in the Champions League and mixing with those kind of players can only help. Maybe he’s looking at other clubs but just now it’s a case of getting his fitness back. But as you’ve seen with James McFadden at Motherwell sometimes returning to a familiar environment can help a player.”
Fenlon, who was able to extend the loans of Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern last month as well as signing Scott Robertson, said he was happy with the squad he had. But he stopped short of categorically ruling out any hope of a return for Thomson, “He’s training with us at the moment,” the manager explained,
“He spoke to me last week, after coming out of Middlesbrough, looking for somewhere to train and get himself fit. He’s an ex-player and very well respected here, so we have given him that opportunity. At the moment that is all it is. He’s a fabulous player and he would enhance any squad, but there is a question mark over the money, and that is where we are.
“He has obviously had a few injuries down there and needs to get himself in good condition, regardless of where he ends up down the road.
“He needs to be fit and ready when someone does come in for him. It is difficult to answer hypothetical questions in terms of whether anything else will happen, but we have basically said to him ‘come in and train’ after he asked – that’s no problem at all. We’ve had a couple of other former players who have asked and we have said no.
“I would never say never in football. It’s a mad game. He’s happy around the place, he’s a good lad and has been bright and bubbly in training. He is coming from a club where he has endured niggling injuries, and he is now getting a fresh start and coming into an environment that he knows, with people he knows, and he has trained well this week.
“We have used up what we had [in January]. We would probably be looking at next season in relation to spending any more money. I’ll not be banging the chairman’s door down. I have a good squad, I am happy with it and I’m focused on cementing where we are in the league, getting into the top six and progressing in the cup.”
Hibs face a tough trip to Tannadice, which has not been a happy hunting ground for them in recent visits, and find United in good form under new manager Jackie McNamara.
McNamara believes he has the most exciting young talent in Scotland at his disposal – and wants the players themselves to share his view. United secured their third win in four games under McNamara when they won 1-0 at Motherwell on Tuesday night after Gary Mackay-Steven set up Johnny Russell for the only goal on the counter-attack.
The pair and Stuart Armstrong, all Scotland Under-21 internationals, stretched Motherwell a number of times on the break in the second half and only the brilliance of Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph kept his side in the game. McNamara said: “There is a lot of ability here and it’s just getting them to believe how good they are. I think some of the younger ones don’t realise how good they are. There are some fantastic talents.
“For me, the other night, the forward line we had were the three most exciting players we have in the country. People were talking about James McFadden coming back to Motherwell. When I look at our front three – Armstrong, Russell and GMS – it’s exciting not just for Dundee United but for Scottish football.”
Meanwhile, McNamara is set to step up his assessment of 23-year-old Swedish defender Marcus Tornstrand. “We have still got the trialist with us,” he said. “We have a closed doors game against Limerick tomorrow and we will have a wee look at him and make a decision.”