PAT FENLON has urged Hibs supporters to be patient while he continues his bid to further strengthen his squad as the countdown to the Easter Road outfit’s Europa League campaign gets underway.
New signings Liam Craig and Owain Tudur Jones were expected to make their debuts in a green-and-white shirt in today’s friendly against First Division Dumbarton, the first of four games Hibs will play as they prepare to face either Drogheda or Malmo in the competition’s second qualifying round.
But while acutely aware fans are becoming increasingly anxious to discover the identity of the further new faces he intends to bring to the club – and in particular who will replace 28-goal Leigh Griffiths – Fenlon insisted his intention is to have a squad capable of competing throughout the season rather than one thrown together simply with European action in mind.
Fenlon, who has also seen former Manchester City defender Ryan McGivern commit to a two-year deal, also pointed out Hibs’ early return to pre-season training hadn’t helped his recruitment drive with most other clubs and many players having only done so over the course of the past few days.
Nevertheless, he’d like to put the finishing touches to his squad sooner rather than later – but only if the individuals concerned meet his criteria of bringing experience and the ability to help the clutch of emerging young stars such as Danny Handling, Alex
Harris, Ross Caldwell, Jordon Forster and Bradley Donaldson flourish. “We have done all right in that regard,” said Fenlon in relation to the addition of Craig and Tudur Jones, before adding: “We are still looking in that direction. We have four or five young boys around the team at the moment and I feel to bring in good experienced professionals around them will be a massive help.
“I know people are anxious for us to add [further signings] and while we are trying to do that we have to make sure they are the right ones.
“We also aren’t going to be panicked into making signings simply for the sake of it with the European games in mind, we have the entire season to
negotiate and we are determined to have a squad we feel can be very competitive throughout it.
“If it means taking a little bit of time to make sure we get the right ones then so be it. We know what we need, we have targets and we are talking
to people. We need to be
patient but we are working
really hard to make sure that gets done.”
Hibs, of course, had a bid to sign Griffiths, who had spent the best part of two seasons on loan in Edinburgh, turned down by Wolves but Fenlon revealed he’d planned both for the 22-year-old remaining with Hibs and leaving.
Admitting it will be tough to replace the Scotland hitman and Eoin Doyle and Shefki Kuqi who have also left the club,
Fenlon insisted that he’ll apply the same approach in seeking new strikers as for other
positions although, it is understood, former Hibs striker Chris Killen doesn’t feature on his shopping list.
He said: “We’ve lost three big players and it is important we replace them but we have Ross and Danny who have both come on the scene and been a breath of fresh air so it is
important we do not bring in loads to stifle their futures.
“We feel both of them can contribute greatly to the team this year but a little bit of
experience around them will help.”