Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today welcomed Kevin Thomson back to Easter Road – but warned the midfield star he’ll have to fight for his place.
The 28-year-old has clinched a deal until the end of the season with his old club, having trained with Fenlon’s squad for the past couple of weeks after severing his ties with English Championship outfit Middlesbrough.
Although initially insisting he couldn’t afford to offer Thomson a contract, Fenlon was delighted when he revealed he’d like to play in a Hibs jersey again and even happier that a short-term deal had been clinched with “a quality player”.
Fenlon was unwilling to disclose the terms of the agreement, insisting that was between the player and the club. What is clear is that Thomson will be picking up far less than he did on Teesside, where his wage was believed to be in the £15,000 to £20,000-a-week bracket.
The Irishman said: “I said at the start we did not have any money to do it and we still do not. We have to live within our means and that’s what we are trying to do, but Kevin has indicated he wants to come in and play which is fantastic. I am delighted to have a quality player on board.”
Thomson’s return, however, hasn’t been met with universal approval, with some Hibs fans still unhappy at the manner of his departure for Rangers in 2007 and comments attributed to him at the time. Fenlon, however, insisted that he has detected a player determined to give his all while watching him in training.
He said: “I don’t have any concerns. We have all said things that we have regretted, I have done that myself. I do not know the ins and outs of the last time he was here, but the fact he has indicated he wants to come a back and play will tell its own story and I am sure when, hopefully, we get him in, he will tell you exactly why he is here to play.
“I think Kevin has always been that type of player who has had real determination on the park. He has played at a real high level and he looks to me as if he has plenty of hunger and ambition about him and that’s a positive, because if he did not, it would not be any good for either of the parties.
“He has shown a real desire to train really well, even although he has not officially been part of the group.”
Fenlon admitted he believed his transfer business was at an end, but was clearly happy at the unexpected arrival of Thomson. He continued: “To be able to bring in a quality player of his calibre will be a bit help. The fact [is] he has been in for a couple of weeks and he obviously likes what he has seen and has enjoyed the training and has got on really well with the players.
“He is going to bring in a wealth of experience in relation to playing for the club, having played in this league and having played in some really big games as well. We have some big games coming up over the next few months.”
Having said that, though, Fenlon insisted despite his reputation and undoubted ability, Thomson would be treated like any other player. He said: “I won’t be throwing him in straight into the team, that’s for certain. It’s like everyone who comes in to the club, you have to work hard and earn the right to go and play. The players have done well over the last few weeks, but Kevin does give us something different which is great in the run-in to the end of the league and with a cup semi-final to play.”