Kevin Thomson would be able to win over the Hibernian faithful if the former Easter Road skipper made a contentious return to the Edinburgh club, according to supporters’ chief Mike Riley.
The 28-year-old free agent has been training with his boyhood club – which he left under a cloud to join Rangers in a £2 million deal in 2007 – throughout this week after contacting manager Pat Fenlon to request the use of the club’s East Mains complex.
Despite Fenlon stating last month any deal for Thomson would only be possible if the player agreed to “play for nothing”, it has prompted speculation that the capital club could be eyeing up a move for their former captain.
Riley insists Thomson’s departure six years ago, after he was viewed to have engineered a move to Ibrox, is “water under the bridge” and Hibs should jump at the chance to snap up a player of his calibre.
“He would be a terrific signing for Hibs if the funds can be found,” said Riley, chairman of the Hibernian Supporters’ Association.
“I would suggest the majority of Hibs fans would be happy if he came back. Obviously you get one or two dissenting voices but when someone starts playing well, those usually die down.
“You would be looking at getting one of the best midfielders in Scotland for nothing. If he wants to come back and put himself in the shop window and perform well for Hibs then that should be welcomed.”
Thomson played over 100 games for Hibs before joining Rangers, where he claimed two league titles, won the Scottish Cup twice, lifted the League Cup and played in the Uefa Cup final of 2008.
Having joined Middlesbrough in 2010, Thomson has endured a torrid time through injuries south of the border, culminating in his release last month.
“He would provide us with a spark in midfield, a little bit of creativity going forward,” Riley continued. “I think most fans would agree we need that at the moment.”
Riley believes inspiration can be found across the city, with the return of Andy Webster to Hearts.
The classy defender was vilified by Tynecastle majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov and branded a traitor by some supporters after exploiting a contract loophole to leave the club in 2006.
However he returned to the club in 2011 and, with Marius Zaliukas injured for the rest of the season, is now captain of the Gorgie outfit.
“I would never criticise any supporters for how they feel, and, if they don’t want Kevin back then so be it,” continued Riley.
“But fans can be fickle sometimes and I’m sure he would be able to win over the support – similar to what Webster did over at Hearts.”