Paul Hanlon hopes new recruits breathe fresh life into Hibs

Paul Hanlon in action against Motherwell's Curtis Main. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Paul Hanlon in action against Motherwell's Curtis Main. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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Sitting eighth in the Premiership, Hibernian have underachieved in the first half of the season and captain Paul Hanlon admits that their league position is a concern but he remains hopeful that additions to the squad can help them move up the table before the season is out.

It was something they managed last term when some shrewd mid-term recruitment allowed manager Neil Lennon to address the team’s weaknesses and gave Hibs a more clinical edge in front of goal. That translated into just one defeat between the transfer window closing and the league campaign reaching its conclusion.

A similar response is needed over the coming months if the Leith side are to have any hope of emulating last season’s top-four finish or even forcing their way into the top six ahead of the split.

Defeat at Motherwell on Wednesday night did not aid those ambitions, and rendered the signing of more attacking options a priority for the Easter Road side, with Hanlon well aware that the time needed to address this season’s shortcomings is quickly ebbing away.

“We don’t have time for waiting,” said Hanlon. “We all have to hit the ground running for the second half of the season. The new guys, the guys who have been here, we all need to get going now.

“You are trying your best to make something happen but when the final whistle went [after the Motherwell game] I felt we could still be playing now and I don’t think we would have scored so, yes, it’s frustrating.”

But simply pointing the finger at the likes of Florian Kamberi, who has been asked to serve as the tip of the attack, is too simplistic according to the Hibs stalwart, who insists everyone has to raise their game, starting on Sunday, against 
St Mirren, a side who took points off them when they met last month.

“It’s easy to say lack of quality up front but they have a really difficult job,” said Hanlon. “I am at the back for a reason, I don’t have the quality these guys have so it’s a difficult job they have but at the end of the day at a club like Hibs you are expected to perform and to produce. We all need to step up in terms of goalscoring and creating, just be a bit more clinical and have the desire in front of goal to put yourself even in a position to miss.

“We aren’t even doing that, the ball is flashing across and we just need to put ourselves on the line a bit more. We have spoken numerous times about it. Even last season there were times we were dominating games and there were too many draws. It’s a hard one, scoring is the hardest thing to do but all over the pitch, wide players, midfielders – Stevie Mallan has chipped in with quite a few – but we all need to be chipping in more to help the strikers.”

Ryan Gauld has already been brought in on loan but Lennon says he wants another wide player and at least one more striker this week. Hanlon warns that just because it all came good last term, there are no guarantees that history will repeat itself. Not without the right attitude.

“We cannot keep saying we had a good second half to last season and we just need to do that again,” he said.

“Just because we did it last year doesn’t mean we are going to do it this time. Instead of talking about it we need to do it. The second half of the season does seem to fly by so we need to get wins now, starting on Sunday. But every game is difficult. We have had tough tests against most of the teams, that’s probably why we are in the position we are in. We can’t take anything for granted.”