HIBS boss Pat Fenlon today revealed he’s seeking “quality over quantity” as he sets about the considerable task of rebuilding his Easter Road squad.
Fenlon is well aware that supporters, still smarting from their Scottish Cup final humiliation at the hands of arch-rivals Hearts, are desperate to see new faces begin to arrive at the Capital club. But, he insisted, while no signings have yet been made, he’s working feverishly behind the scenes and believes he has one or two deals close to a conclusion as he seeks to bring a period of stability.
Pointing out that few SPL clubs have, as yet, made any signings, the Irishman said: “We have spoken to a fair few players and we’ll continue to do that but at this stage people are reluctant to commit.
“We are working hard to get the right type as it’s important we just don’t make signings for the sake of it.
“I know it is frustrating for supporters but we have had a massive turnover of players in the last two or three years and we want to make sure we get ones that will be around the club for a while. It just needs a little patience.”
As things stand today, Fenlon’s first-team squad is paper-thin with the likes of Garry O’Connor, Graham Stack, Ian Murray, Sean Welsh and Scott Taggart having departed while the raft of loan players he brought in during the January transfer window – George Francomb, Leigh Griffiths, Matt Doherty, James McPake, Roy O’Donovan and Tom Soares – have all returned to their parent clubs, as has Richie Towell.
McPake is one the fans would dearly love to see return, the Coventry City defender having made a huge impression during his spell at Easter Road when he was immediately handed the captain’s armband by Fenlon.
And the manager today admitted he’d love to have the former Livingston man back on a permanent basis.
“What he brought to the place is what we’re looking for,” said Fenlon. “That’s why sometimes it can take time to find that same type of character.
“While he was here he was fabulous for us, both on and off the park.
“So that’s the type of player we’re looking for. I know supporters look at players and what they do on a Saturday and that is the be all and end all.
“But it also has to be about what they do during the week and how they conduct themselves in relation to the dressing-room and around the training centre.”
Fenlon knows he attracted some criticism for bringing in so many players on loan in January although, as he pointed out, the goal at that stage was simply SPL survival.
Now, however, he is looking to the long-term.
He said: “This is the chance to build a team, we’ve identified where we feel we need players but they have to the right type of professional as well. We need some senior players, what we are left with at the moment is a lot of young players.
“I felt the squad we had last year, 28 players, was too big so as we are looking to get quality in that means the squad numbers might have to drop a little bit.”