HIBERNIAN have confirmed the departure of striker Ricardo Vaz Te and goalkeeper Jakub Divis and restated their intention to strengthen up front.
Twenty-four hours after pulling off a major signing coup by persuading Garry O'Connor to return to Easter Road, manager Colin Calderwood has admitted his squad is still short of attacking options.
O'Connor and Akpo Sodje are Hibs' only first-team strikers following the decision not to extend Vaz Te's short-term deal. The Portuguese forward made his name with Bolton Wanderers and joined Hibs in February from the Greek club Panionios following a short trial. Vaz Te had initially thought he would be offered a new deal but Calderwood has opted not to pursue an interest in a player who scored once in ten games for Hibs, the goal coming in the final derby of the season against Hearts.
"Ricardo's deal was until the end of the season," the Hibs manager said yesterday. "He was able to come up and help us during the latter stages of the season. When it came to the end we knew we would shake hands and walk away."
Calderwood also announced Divis' exit. "We had an option with Jakub and we didn't take that up," he said. The Czech goalkeeper joined in January and played three matches but it is a position in which Hibs are well served, with Mark Brown, Graham Stack and Thomas Flynn vying for the jersey.
Underlining the point and highlighting the need to bring in more strikers, Calderwood added: "We've almost got more goalkeepers than strikers. It is the one part of the team where we're short.
"We've started with a really big signing for lots of reasons. What we add will be focused on complementing Akpo Sodje and Garry up front."
The return of O'Connor on a one-year contract five years after he left Hibs for Lokomotiv Moscow appears to be a smart piece of business by Calderwood. The striker, 28, went on to play for Birmingham City and Barnsley but was a free agent after injuries and off-field problems took their toll.
Calderwood admitted he was surprised to be able to pull off such a deal. The manager told Hibernian TV: "I think it is a terrific signing for us. The fact he has formerly been at the club was a big help in enabling us to recapture him. He is coming back home.
"It is one that I never thought we'd be able to complete or happen. But during the summer it progressed - I met with him - and I'm really excited about what he is going to offer us. He gives us a focal point up front. I think he is a character that the fans need no introduction to.
"He has lifted me on the occasions when I've met with him. You can see he's got a real desire to get out playing again on a regular basis."
O'Connor hopes to use his move back to Hibs as a springboard back into the Scotland squad. The centre forward has not played for his country since appearing as a second-half substitute in the World Cup qualifying defeat by the Netherlands at Hampden in 2009 but is keen to add to his 16 caps.
"Earning a recall into the Scotland squad is at the back of my mind," O'Connor admitted. "Firstly I need to let my football do the talking and deliver on the pitch regularly for Hibs. If the Scotland manager comes along and watches me and thinks I am ready to play for Scotland then it would be a special bonus.
"But right now that thought is right at the back of my head. I want to score goals for Hibs and create goals for others. Then if Scotland open the door for me I'll welcome it."
O'Connor was Calderwood's second signing of the summer, having also recruited Ivan Sproule from Bristol City.