Hibs boss Jack Ross speaks on Chris Cadden chase, why he's signed him and Jackson Irvine latest
“He’s a young player who, from his emergence at Motherwell, I’ve followed,” said the Easter Road boss as he explained why he had made Chris Cadden his third signing of the transfer window. “I’ve got a particular interest in players who come through [the youth ranks at a club] and play a lot of games. The guys that emerge and play more than 100 games at their own club tend to have a good grounding for a career.”
Cadden, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Hibs, was promoted from the Motherwell development group in the latter part of the 2013/14 season, as Stuart McCall’s men finished second in the league, behind Celtic.
But, five years later, having evolved into a key player for the Fir Park side, he moved on.
“Chris then went to England and came up against a Sunderland team I managed,” said Ross. “So I’ve always been interested in how he was doing. Even when he was in MLS, because I’m still close with [former St Mirren player] Lewis Morgan, who is out there with Inter Miami, I was always interested in that league and the players doing well within it, especially Scottish players.
“So, when his availability became known, it was something we were very keen to do.”
Cadden’s lack of game time in the US, where he played nine games for Columbus Crew as they went on to become MLS champions, does not worry Ross, who believes the versatile defender/midfielder still found it a worthwhile experience.
“Any experience in different countries is something you will take something from. The development on a personal level can be advantageous to a player’s football. He moved away from home, lived in a different country and was being coached in a different way. Although I’m sure he would have liked to have more game time, the overall experience has probably matured him, not that he was a young man who needed much maturing.”
Making up for lost time has galvanised him, though.
“It was evident in the first conversations I had with Chris that he was really hungry to come here and play. He has been frustrated because, you look at his appearance record at Motherwell and Oxford where he was pretty much every present, there’s not been many stages in his career where he’s not played. When you get that as a young player then it’s difficult.
“He is coming here desperate to get involved.”
There are other, bigger targets, as well, of course, with Cadden relishing the opportunity to again compete at the higher echelons of the Premiership and the latter stages of national cup competitions. He is also determined to put himself in the shop window as Steve Clarke pieces together upcoming Scotland squads, and, in particular, the group he will take to the Euros.
Hibs are happy to play their part in helping him chase those ambitions, according to his new gaffer.
“The responsibility falls on me to make us a team that competes at the top end of the table and in the latter stages of cups. That’s what grabs players’ attention,” said Ross.
“But the fact that we have had a number of players involved in the Scotland squad this year and speculation around one or two others means we can say to players to come here and there’s a potential to be involved with Scotland.
“It’s good timing in that regard for me to use that.”
In contention alongside Irvine
Cadden trained with the Easter Road team ahead of the transfer announcement and is keen to get involved as soon as possible, as is fellow new boy Jackson Irvine. With Joe Newell likely out of this weekend’s league clash with Kilmarnock with a groin strain, as the club try to nurse him back to full fitness in time for next weekend’s League Cup semi final, the recent acquisitions could feature.
While both have suffered from a lack of recent competitive action they have been tested in recent days, working alongside their new colleagues at Hibs’ East Lothian training centre, and Ross has been impressed by the fitness levels and sharpness.
Jackson Irvine has spent the past few months training with former Socceroo Harry Kewell at Oldham and has benefitted from bounce games, leaving Ross convinced it will not take Hibs too long to get the best out of him.
“Jackson has fitted in very well, he is chatty and will put himself among people. His pedigree is very good, his recent career is very good. He really kicked on again when he moved to England. His international record in a good Australia squad is very good as well.
“He is a real coup for us in that respect and gives us something a bit different in that area as well.
“There were circumstances around how he ended in this situation that were unforeseen. He was being careful about where he would go for the next stage of his career so we had to put forward our case for this to be the right place for him in the short term and hopefully longer than that.
“He’s a real good signing at a good stage of the season.”
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