FOR some observers, the need to strengthen the Hibs frontline has been clear for a while but Alan Stubbs has made it obvious that, despite the departure of one of the most creative forces in the league, he remains unwavering in the belief that attack is the best form of defence.
Yesterday he added yet another striking option, bringing in Jamie Insall on a three-year deal. Coming from non-league football, the 22-year-old also comes with an impressive scoring pedigree.
Netting 42 goals last season, he caught the eye and illustrated his scoring credentials in 2013, bagging four hat-tricks in consecutive matches for non-league outfit Littleton. That merely underlined the achievements of the previous year when he bagged 67 goals for Worcester Raiders.
Swapping non-league football for a promotion battle in the Scottish Championship is a step up but Stubbs is convinced he can make the leap, having been impressed by Insall during a month-long trial spell.
The Easter Road side ended last term with two of the most prolific goalscorers in the Championship yet they have sometimes struggled to find the breakthrough when it matters most. Dominating possession and carving out chances, the Leith outfit has often lacked the clinical edge needed to elevate them above the clubs around them and it is a matter Stubbs has tried to address.
Before the transfer dealings were brought to a close, the Leith gaffer manoeuvred to bolster his options up front, adding Insall to the earlier loan signings of Chelsea youngster Islam Feruz and former Motherwell and Dundee United striker Henri Anier, who have joined up until the end of the season.
Insall said: “It’s a big step up, but I’ve waited a long time for my opportunity to step up to full-time football and I’m determined to make the most of it by doing everything I can to succeed.”
“Playing in non-league football down south has given me a good grounding and, although I’m still quite raw, I’ve got a real hunger to kick on and make the most of my chance here at Hibs.
“This is a great move for me – I’m absolutely delighted to have been given the chance to sign for Hibs. My aim now is to repay the faith that the manager has shown in me by working hard, developing my game and ultimately helping the first team by scoring goals.”
“We’re pleased to have Jamie signed up for the next few years,” said Stubbs. “Jamie has impressed on trial and he’s earned his chance at taking the step up to professional football. We feel he’s got the potential to succeed at the club and he now has the opportunity to work hard and develop his game with us.”
It is a chance for Insall to make it in the professional game, it is also another step towards full rehabilitation for the striker who has swapped Stourbridge for the capital club. He is a player with a tarnished past after he was given a suspended jail term and 250 hours of unpaid community service after he fractured an opponent’s jaw with a punch back in 2012.
But he will have a fight on his hands to secure a starting place in a first team now flooded with striking options. In the summer Stubbs moved to strengthen, bringing in Martin Boyle and James Keatings to add to the likes of Dominique Malonga, Jason Cummings, Farid El Alagui and Danny Handling. The latest acquisitions will have to vie with those players.
But, despite the departure of Scott Allan, if Stubbs can find the correct combination up front he has recruited midfielders he believes can supply the ammunition. He simply has to hope that at least some of the bountiful collection of strikers he has assembled thrive in the pressure of competition.
Insall’s former manager, Stourbridge boss Gary Hackett, who signed the player in the summer, believes that they have at least one man up to that task. He would have been delighted to hold on to the player but praised the Easter Road hierarchy for they way they have conducted themselves. “We can’t fault the way they’ve gone about it,” he said.
“Obviously Jamie was not on a contract so they had no obligation to us, but they’ve been very understanding and professional, and they’ve made a small payment to us as a token of goodwill, which is very much appreciated.”
AFTER adding Jamie Insall to his squad, Alan Stubbs has an abundance of attacking options at his disposal.
• Dominique Malonga
Career apps: 170
Career league goals: 41
• Farid El Alagui
Career apps: 191
Career league goals: 92
• Jason Cummings
Career apps: 53
Career league goals: 20
• James Keatings
Career apps: 72
Career league goals: 27
• Henri Anier
Career apps: 198
Career league goals: 86
• Islam Feruz
Career apps: 3
Career league goals: 0
• Martin Boyle
Career apps: 155
Career league goals: 41
• Danny Handling
Career apps: 62
Career league goals: 10
• Jamie Insall
Career apps: 0
Career league goals: 0