ALAN Stubbs last night struck a deal with his old club Everton to bring winger Matthew Kennedy to Hibernian on loan, and the Scotland Under-21 international is expected to make his debut against Livingston today.
Kennedy, 19, had loan spells with Tranmere Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons last season and also featured for Everton’s under-21 side – then managed by new Hibs head coach Stubbs.
Originally with Kilmarnock, Irvine-born Kennedy moved south to Everton in August 2012 and says he is now thrilled to be returning to Scotland to join Hibs on an initial six-month loan.
Kennedy said: “I’m really excited about being here – Hibernian are a massive club and I’m looking forward to working with Alan Stubbs again.
“He was my manager with the under-21s at Everton and I’ve always enjoyed working with him. I’m looking to play as regularly as possible and to help Hibs back up into the Premiership. I’ve played with Danny (Handling) and Sam (Stanton) with Scotland under-21s and I played with Heff (Paul Heffernan) and Michael (Nelson) at Kilmarnock.”
Stubbs said: “Matthew is a player with huge potential and he will be a great addition to our squad. His arrival emboldens what I’ve consistently said throughout the summer transfer window – we want to bring quality players here to Hibernian.
“I’m delighted to sign someone who I have worked with over the past couple of years – he knows exactly what I want and I know what he is capable of. I would like to thank Everton for allowing me to take one of their talented young players on a six-month loan and believe Hibernian will be a great platform for him to continue his development and to fulfil his potential.”
If the club succeeds in securing international clearance by noon, he will be eligible to face Livingston.
Meanwhile, Hibs defender Paul Hanlon insists it is now up to the players to take a leaf out of Stubbs’ book and deliver performances that help restore the supporters’ confidence in the team.
During his opening six weeks in the post, former Celtic defender Stubbs has had to lift a dejected squad that had collapsed to their nadir following May’s relegation to the Championship.
Hanlon said: “The manager has come in and really helped the players, building us back up and getting our confidence to where it should be. Now, it is up to us to do that for the fans. They have been great in pre-season so it’s another challenge for us to show them at home what we can do and get them back onside.
“I’m sure everyone last season could sense it when things weren’t going well. But it’s up to us to make them happy. They’re there to support us and see us play. And if you are not performing then that’s what happens (they get on at you), it’s the same with every team. Going to Easter Road is something we are looking forward to now. We’re playing a style of football we are all enjoying and hopefully the fans will enjoy it as much as we do.”