Hibs boss Lee Johnson 'worried' as player red tape and pre-season date cause issues

Hibs boss Lee Johnson has warned fans that it could be four or five games into the new league season before they get a real glimpse of the team and the type of football he has wagered his ambitions on this term.

Hibs manager Lee Johnson takes his team to Bonnyrigg Rose on Sunday.
Hibs manager Lee Johnson takes his team to Bonnyrigg Rose on Sunday.

But, in the meantime, he says he will still be looking for ways to win every match.

Revealing that the planning was off ahead of the new campaign, and admitting that the delay in getting back for pre-season training is something he would address if he could turn back the clock, he confessed that the ongoing issues with work permits are also hampering the rebuilding process.

"I couldn't hang my hat on having them all available for the start of the season because I just don't know the variations in the timings of the Home Offices involved,” said Johnson. “It has started to worry me a little bit, only because I want the options from a selfish point of view.

New Hibs signing Marijan Cabraja is one of the players awaiting clearance.

“I have started to ask the question almost hourly. And the lads are getting frustrated now as well.”

While Lewis Miller and Momodou Bojang have finally fought their way through the red tape, with the latter available to make his debut this weekend in the must-win cup match against Bonnyrigg Rose on Sunday, Jair Tavares, Élie Youan and new signing Marijan Cabraja are still sidelined as the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. With the first capital derby of the season just two games into the Premiership campaign, the frustration is telling.

"I want the depth and the options but I want the depth that's ready tactically, physically, and mentally,” said Johnson.

"I don't think you'll be able to see the true 'us' until ten or 12 games in because that won't be ready.

"It doesn't mean we can't win football matches, by the way, and most clubs will be experiencing this in their own way."

With a couple of bounce games and two Premier Sports Cup ties already under their belts and two more group games scheduled, as well as another friendly against Norwich City next weekend, before league action gets under way on July 30, the Hibs boss hopes that every fixture will take them closer to the kind of performances he wants.

"I think it will be four or five games into the season before we start seeing the fruits of our labour because everybody is on a different journey here,” he continued.

"Aiden McGeady, for example, has had six months out, then didn't do the first week, had nine days training on the spin, then missed four days.

"Josh Campbell hasn't missed a day, had a great off-season, is superfit anyway, and is ready to go.

"Then there’s Élie Youan. He came to Portugal [for the training camp], did well and got in some good work, then had to go back to France to deal with a passport situation and he only came back to the country two or three days ago.

"So it's like a Rubik's cube at the moment trying to fit everyone in and getting everyone to their peak.

“We were back too late in my opinion. We should have been back definitely a week, maybe 10 days earlier. We got that wrong and as the manager you look at yourself first.”