HIBERNIAN manager Alan Stubbs has brought in two trialists as he seeks to further strengthen his squad for the Championship campaign. South African midfielder Matty Pattison and Dutch striker Donovan Deekman trained with Hibs for the first time yesterday, but if either is offered a deal it will be in addition to other recruits Stubbs plans to make.
Both new men are out of contract and therefore need not be signed during the transfer window, but Stubbs made it plain he still hopes to do business before the window closes on Monday. Owain Tudur Jones is one player who could be on his way out of Easter Road, although the manager insisted that new signings could be made whether others left the payroll or not. Hibs had been prepared to let Paul Heffernan go to St Johnstone, but the veteran striker turned down the move to Perth.
“We’ve got a couple of trialists in and we’re actively looking,” Stubbs said yesterday after his squad trained on Spartans’ artificial surface as preparation for tomorrow’s match on the plastic pitch at Alloa. “We’ve just got them in to have a look at them. Whether something comes from it I honestly don’t know. It’s the first day they’ve trained with us.
“There’s going to be players once the window closes who haven’t got clubs. They’re in that boat. We haven’t got a huge amount of money to sign players for fees, so it is going to be free agents and players who are out of contract.
“From now to Monday there could be some movement – I’m hoping there’s going to be.
“There may be some that go out, there may be some that come in. Some might not go out and I’m still hopeful that some might come in.
“This is the rush period. You can get one or two real surprises that you didn’t think were available, or you can get a lot of what everybody’s turned down.”
Pattison, a 27-year-old from Johannesburg, was on Newcastle’s books as a teenager but most recently played for Bidvest Wits in his home city. He has been capped five times by South Africa, most recently at the start of this year, and first came to Hibs’ attention at the beginning of 2012 when Pat Fenlon was in charge.
Deekman, who is a year younger, began his career with Heerenveen. For the past two seasons he was with Sparta Rotterdam, but was released at the start of the summer.
“I know what I want to bring in,” Stubbs continued. “I’ve got targets, I know who they are, it’s just whether we can get them.
“I’ve spoken to Owain. It would be similar to what I said about Michael [Nelson, who was allowed to leave after Liam Fontaine signed on Tuesday], but that conversation was private so I’m not going to go in to what was said. We’ll see.
“The ones we would have liked to bring in [from Everton] will possibly be involved in the Europa League. You never know, but it could be closed, that one.” While keen to add to his squad, Stubbs is confident that progress has already been made since he took over, and wants his team to take up tomorrow where they left off on Tuesday night, when three goals in the last dozen minutes gave them a 3-2 League Cup victory over Dumbarton.
“I’m hoping Tuesday’s game can really kick us on. We’re getting stronger, we’re getting better, all the signings have been really good and we’re looking to keep strengthening and taking the club to where we ideally want to go.
“I thought to come back from 2-0 down, the character of the team was fantastic the other night. I wasn’t too sure I had it in the team in abundance. They could have easily felt sorry for themselves, but they kept doing the right thing and they got their rewards by trying to play it through midfield.
“We just didn’t put the ball on the money enough times. When we did, you can see what the striker we’ve got can do when the ball’s in the air.
“I noticed the character of the team from the first game we played. To go to Ibrox, have the lion’s share of the game and come away with nothing – everyone more or less would have said we deserved to win the game. That tells me there’s already character.”
Paul Hanlon trained for the first time yesterday after a short spell out with a knee injury and could be in the squad to face Alloa, but captain Liam Craig, while available again after suspension, sat out training because of a back strain and is likely to be rested. Stubbs will have no hesitation in again naming David Gray as captain after the full-back took the armband for the first time on Tuesday.
“It was a very, very easy choice, to be honest,” Stubbs said of that decision. “He’s been very good since he’s come in. He’s really respected in the dressing room and has a lot of leadership qualities. He’s a leader on and off the pitch and is a great pro. He does everything right and is an example to all the young players in how to train. He’s a winner. I could go on.
“He was surprised when he was told he was the captain [on Tuesday], but it was no surprise for me. Liam’s the captain, and from now on David’ll be the vice-captain.”