Pat Fenlon sets a tough test in Hibs’ build-up

Pat FENLON has admitted Hibs face a tough pre-season run of matches – but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Easter Road side play their first match on Wednesday, barely ten days after returning to training when they take on Rapid Bucharest, who finished fourth in the Romanian League last season and are in Scotland preparing for Europa League action, at the Grangemouth Stadium.

Next Tuesday, Fenlon’s squad fly out to play four matches in three different countries in the space of just eight days, facing Belgian sides Lierse SK and OHV Leuven and then a Zeeland Select in the south of Holland, before switching their attention to Germany and Union Berlin.

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Hibs will return from the Continent and three days later take on Championship new boys Huddersfield at Easter Road as they put the finishing touches to their preparations.

Today Fenlon said: “Rapid have played a few games, so they will be a fair bit ahead of where we are fitness-wise, so it’s a good test for us. They are a decent continental team that will keep the ball and we will get a good work-out. That’s what you want from pre-season games. You want to get results if you can, but it’s really about match practice and sharpness, working on your technique, the sort of stuff that will help us.

“It’s going to be a tough start, but that’s the way I want it. We have to get something out of all the games.”

The trip around Europe will also be testing, comprising of matches, training and a fair bit of travel but, again, Fenlon is looking forward to it. He said: “It’s a tough tour, fairly go, go, go, not start-stop. We’ve a good schedule in relation to training and games, we’re on the move all the time and that’s what I wanted, I don’t want us sitting around waiting for things.”

And as he continues to look to bring in new faces, Fenlon insisted the tour will also help his signings get to know their new team-mates. He said: “They’ll be living with each other for eight or nine days to it’s a time to get to know each other as well as getting ourselves fit.

“Pre-season is all about hard work. I have been there as a player and I know that once you get a week or two under your belt you feel yourself getting to the levels you need to be.

“It’s about getting fitness levels up to where we want them and to hit the ground running when it comes to the first league game.”