Joe Newell was recruited from Rotherham United but despite making his competitive debut in the first game of the season, he has struggled to command a starting berth in recent weeks and has been limited to late substitute appearances.
Newell, below, admits he arrived with more ambitious plans and that the other new boys were of the same mind but he claims that it would be unrealistic to expect them to be ever-presents so early in their Hibs careers.
“The gaffer did make quite a few new signings but the standard of the lads who were here already is part of it. They are good players, so it’s not like the new lads have walked into a team full of pub players which would have made it a certainty that we were all going to play. It is a good standard here and no one would have expected to just walk into the team. I would have hoped that would be the case but I would never have expected to play and win every week.”
The Hibernian management team are well aware of the criticism levelled at them and their players this season and believe the fact that there has been so much of it so early in the campaign is an example of why the newcomers have struggled to bed in.
Many of Paul Heckingbottom’s new recruits have been warming seats on the bench or in the stand and those who have featured have failed to earn instant hero status but that will take time according to the man who has explained that anxiety from the stand is making them jittery.
His assistant manager, Robbie Stockdale, agrees and says that if the fans are patient, they will see the rewards.
“I have heard a lot about that and what people are saying,” he said. “But sometimes it is not the football per se, it’s the pressure of playing for such a big club and the demand that the supporters put on the players to perform.
“That can take time to get used to but they need to get up to speed and we saw glimpses of that against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night.”
Nine of the summer signings either started the League Cup quarter-final or joined the fray as the game went to extra time and penalties, with Newell the man who netted the winning spot-kick.
“Hopefully it can be a sign of things changing, for me personally and for the team,” said Newell. “Hopefully we can all kick on now and the players and the coaches can show what we are capable of. We know what we have got here and we know we can be a force in the league but we should be up the top end of the table.”
Today’s match against the league leaders will provide an indication of just how close they are to competing with the Premiership elite, said Stockdale, who described the lunchtime clash as “a good gauge to see where we’re at”.
He said: “They’re really strong, a good team with a good manager. They have threats all over, so we will have to be on our A game.
“Our process is to figure out how we nullify what they’re good at – and then look for weaknesses that we can exploit.”