Ivan Sproule set for return to Hibs on a two-year deal

IVAN SPROULE was today expected to complete his return to Easter Road, becoming boss Colin Calderwood's first signing of the summer.

The Evening News understands the Northern Ireland winger was in Edinburgh this morning to finalise the details of a two-year deal with talks having taken place over the past three weeks.

While the 30-year-old has been told he'll be released by his current club Bristol City, his deal with the Ashton Gate outfit runs until the end of next month meaning today's agreement will be a "pre-contract."

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However, that is no more than a technicality to secure Sproule's signature and he'll join his new team-mates for the start of pre-season training at East Mains on June 20.

Sproule became a firm favourite with the Easter Road support having arrived in the Capital as an unknown from Irish side Institute, signed by former manager Tony Mowbray for what proved to be a basement bargain fee of just 5,000.

He wrote himself into the club's folklore by becoming the first Hibs player in a century to score a hat-trick at Ibrox in August 2005 before helping the Easter Road outfit end a 16-year wait for silverware by lifting the CIS Insurance Cup with a 5-1 hammering of Kilmarnock at Hampden in 2007.

Bristol City forked out 500,000 to take him to the English Championship later that year, Sproule going on to make 121 appearances for the West Country side.

But he fell out of favour and over the course of last season spent spells on loan with both Yeovil Town and Notts County although he made no secret of the fact he'd cherish the opportunity to play for Hibs again.The News understands, however, that Calderwood's move wasn't prompted by Sproule's heroics during his previous spell with Hibs but based on the manager's knowledge gained while he played in England.