MIDFIELDER Tom Taiwo, who was once part of a £5 million transfer from Leeds to Chelsea, has joined Hibernian on a two-year deal after leaving Carlisle as a free agent.
The 22-year-old from Yorkshire has a reputation as a tough-tackling and wholehearted player, and manager Pat Fenlon hopes he will help continue the transformation of a squad who were woefully soft at times last season.
“The paperwork has been done over the last couple of days and he’s come on board,” Fenlon said yesterday after Taiwo was unveiled at Hibs’ official season 2012-13 photocall. “We watched him a fair bit last year for Carlisle and he brings a bit of steel. He’s not the biggest, but he can pass the ball and get around the pitch.
“He’s played a lot of games, and, like Ryan McGivern, he is in that age where they have experience but are still fairly young. He gives us a different dimension to Lewis Stevenson or Jorge Claros. We’re delighted to get him in.”
Taiwo’s experience includes two caps for England under-17s, and that move from Leeds to Chelsea along with Michael Woods, which led to the Elland Road club seeking compensation after accusing the London side of inducing the pair to leave. Chelsea paid £5m by way of compensation, but Taiwo broke his leg shortly before he was due to make his youth-team debut for Chelsea.
He did not make the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge, however, and after a couple of loan spells eventually signed for Carlisle two years ago. “I spoke to one or two of the lads down at Carlisle and they are disappointed to have lost him, but they said his performances were excellent,” Fenlon continued.
“We’re really pleased with the squad we have. I feel our squad last year was too big, but now we have a good nucleus at a good age, as well as some young guys coming through. We have no intention of overloading.”
Having been unattached all summer, Taiwo will not be involved in Hibs’ home game against Kilmarnock tomorrow. But his fellow-midfielder Claros should be able to take part, having returned from international duty with Honduras yesterday morning and been sent home to rest rather than staying to train.
Meanwhile, winger Danny Galbraith was omitted from the photocall yesterday as he continues his rehabilitation from injury away from the club.
“He’s been given a bit of time off,” Fenlon added. “He’s been training, been back fit and then out injured again a few times, so we felt the best for him was to take him out of the firing line at the moment, both physically and mentally, then see where it goes from there.
“We haven’t put a timescale on it because he’s had so many set-backs. We have to make sure he’s right to get back involved, either here or if he goes to play anywhere else.”