John Hughes draws up shopping list for Petrie to approve

HIBS boss John Hughes today revealed he's presented chairman Rod Petrie with a blueprint to strengthen his Easter Road squad before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.

Hughes became the first SPL manager to enter the market, landing former Rangers and Motherwell goalkeeper Graeme Smith on a free transfer from Brighton on New Year's Day.

And, although Hibs are riding high in the league table, five points clear of next Saturday's opponents, fourth-placed Dundee United, Hughes is intent on adding further new faces to his squad over the coming three weeks.

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At the moment, a move to entice Falkirk skipper Darren Barr to Easter Road appears to have stalled with Aberdeen having also signalled their desire to land the Scotland defender, either this month or on a pre-contract agreement. But, while refusing to kill off that possibility, Hughes said: "Barr is a player I have worked with since he was a young lad. I admire his attributes and I wish him all the best wherever he chooses to go.

"At the moment, however, there are a number of players we are looking at. Everyone thinks we have to get players in, but it is not like that. There are names being battered about all over the place.

"I sat down with the chairman this week and told him what I think we need for the team, talked about the positions in which I feel we are well covered and identified areas I believe we need to add to.

"We have a list we are pursuing, not only for now but the future, players who have their best years in front of them.

"In saying that, if a good, experienced one was to come along, a good professional in the right position, someone who has a good few years left and can come into our dressing room and help the young lads, then we'd also look at that.

"There's nothing we are not looking at. But what we have to do is take our time and make sure we get the right ones."

Hughes admits he has been well supported by Petrie and the other members of the Easter Road board as he has set about revamping the squad he inherited from his predecessor Mixu Paatelainen, surprising everyone as he added to his summer arrivals, Kevin McBride, Patrick Cregg and Graham Stack, by snapping up Republic of Ireland internationalists Anthony Stokes, scorer of 11 goals, seven of which have come in his last five games, and midfielder Liam Miller.

That process continued with the signing of former Rangers and Motherwell goalkeeper Smith on a free transfer from Brighton, the Roslin-born player having been a summer target for both Hughes and, before his departure, Paatelainen.

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Today Hughes insisted the diligence with which both he and Petrie work will continue as he revealed the in-depth dossier he builds up on each potential target before presenting his case to the board.

Identifying potential stumbling blocks is a priority with, for example, former Aberdeen defender Russell Anderson apparently ruling out a return north of the border as he prefers to pursue his career in England while many a possible move has been ended through an individual's own personal circumstances.

Hughes said: "We work together. If I come up with two or three names, even trialists, then I'll have gone into the individual's background in great detail, things like his age, is he married, does he have kids, does he drive, if he isn't playing at the moment, why not and so on. I have to make sure I have done my homework. The board have been very helpful in what we are trying to do, everyone buys into the vision."

The tracking of Smith following what turned out to be a disappointing move to the south coast of England was a case in point and today the goalkeeper revealed he believes the prudence which has been exercised in previous years by Petrie has readied Hibs for a promising future.

He said: "I think there's another level of ambition. The club has perhaps had a couple of hard years but I think they have been building and slowly we can see the green shoots coming through.

"Hibs have been doing the right thing probably more than any in the league, bringing through a lot of good players, selling them and reinvesting so that we have facilities like the training centre which, as a player, you cannot beat.

"It will attract players, the team does well and then it is a snowball effect. You never know until it happens but everything is right about the club. For me it is perfect. When I heard Hibs were interested I was straight into the car to make that 400-mile trip from Brighton I was so eager to get it done."