ALAN Stubbs has confirmed he is on the hunt for a striker he described as being “the final piece” in the jigsaw. Naming no names, the Hibs manager added he would be “surprised” if there was no addition to his squad before the end of the transfer window on Tuesday.
After only two goals in three league games, it isn’t a surprise to learn that Stubbs is in the market for a player to help boost Hibs’ chances of promotion from the Championship.
Stubbs yesterday refused to confirm or deny speculation linking Hibs with Billy Mckay, the Wigan Athletic striker for whom Dundee United have already had a bid of £200,000 accepted.
Hibs’ ties with Wigan – Stubbs’ No 2 John Doolan is a former member of the backroom staff at the DW Stadium, and the clubs played each other in pre-season – could yet help the Easter Road side hijack United’s move for Mckay. Whether or not this happens, Stubbs was happy to stress this quest for a striker is the last part of an extensive squad overhaul.
“There are quite a few names [we have been linked with],” he said, when asked to comment about the Mckay speculation. “I am not going to confirm or deny any names, I think it will be wrong to do that. We are still actively looking to bring in a player, so until we are closer to doing that there will be speculation. But I am not going to comment on that.”
Asked if the recruitment of a forward would be his final bit of business before the transfer window closes after a busy summer, he replied: “I think that is fair to say. I don’t think we will be doing much more than that. This is the final piece. We want to make sure it is the right one.”
Reading between the lines, it did seem as though Stubbs was homing in on one specific individual. Mckay has been linked with Hibs before during Terry Butcher’s troubled tenure.
Stubbs was uncertain whether a deal could be tied up before tomorrow’s home clash with Raith Rovers.
“I will probably say at this moment in time, no,” Stubbs said, when asked if it was likely a new player could be added to the squad in time for the Championship fixture.
“But then things can change very quickly in football,” he added. “Over the next few hours suddenly you might get a phone call which means you could start to move. But at this moment in time I am looking to it going towards Monday. But if it changes and it is before then, then great.”
Stubbs is keen to land a forward who is able to make an immediate impression. “We are looking for someone who can come in and make an impact,” he said. “The strikers that we have can score goals, the striker we want to bring in can score goals. But they all have different attributes. It is not one attribute we are looking to bring in. He could have a bit of everything – I will tell you when he comes in what his strengths are!”
Stubbs claimed he would be comfortable if circumstances dictated he had to go with the forwards already at the club, a list that includes Jason Cummings, Dominique Malonga, James Keatings, Martin Boyle and the currently injured Farid El Alagui. Despite this firepower, Hibs have been struggling to convert chances into goals.
Cummings failed to take a couple of opportunities to turn Wednesday night’s 1-0 League Cup victory over Stranraer into a more emphatic victory but Stubbs is at ease with Hibs’ all-round play. Using the example of former Everton team-mate Wayne Rooney’s midweek hat-trick for Manchester United following a ten-game drought, the goals, Stubbs promised, will come.
“It is not a concern,” he said. “It would be a concern if we were not creating chances. But I think the most important thing is that we keep creating.
“Look at Jason last night. He is still very young,” he added. “There is still a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He is getting chances. The one thing with Jason is that when you are young, you miss some. But you will score some too.
“Like with any striker, it is consistency. You saw last night [in the Club Brugge v Manchester United clash], where you have one of the best who has gone ten games without scoring. Suddenly he gets a hat-trick and he is the best thing since sliced bread.”