Kilmarnock v Hibernian: Isaiah Osbourne can be Hibs' very own Patrick Vieira

HIBERNIAN have found their own Patrick Vieira in new signing Isaiah Osbourne, according to Garry O'Connor. The former Aston Villa midfielder joined Hibs this week on a two-year deal, and O'Connor, who knows the 23-year-old from his own time in the Midlands, believes he has a crucial role to play in the team.

"I know Ozzy Osbourne from down south - I have played against him a few times," O'Connor said yesterday. "He's a talented kid: he has everything at his feet and he is a great addition to the squad.

"He's a Patrick Vieira type; he plays exactly like him," he continued, referring to the now-retired French player. "He doesn't give the ball away cheaply.

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"He soaks the ball up in midfield. He'll get forward into the box. He has good energy, a good range of passing, and when he was in the reserves at Aston Villa he scored a lot of goals too. He's going to be a big prospect for us. At Hibs we need to keep the ball in midfield and try and release the strikers and Ivan (Sproule] with his pace on the right."

Having missed out on pre-season training, Osbourne may not be ready to play from the start for his new club at Kilmarnock tomorrow. But, with Victor Palsson expected to move from midfield to right-back to cover for the injury to Michael Hart, the 23-year-old seems set to be a regular choice for Colin Calderwood as soon as his match fitness is up to scratch.

Striker Junior Agogo, another summer signing, is in a similar position and could also make his debut at Rugby Park. With another striker, Phil Airey, having also joined Hibs this week on loan from Newcastle, O'Connor faces competition for a place up front - something he welcomes.

"I have been struggling on my own up front, but big Junior is back fit now so hopefully he will see some part of the game at Kilmarnock," he said. "We've signed the young lad from Newcastle so we have good competition, and that's what strikers thrive on." Calderwood has now strengthened his team considerably while the transfer window has been open, having remained patient earlier in the summer when many supporters were urging the club to move into the market. The manager explained that he has not necessarily concluded his signings for the summer, but would remain unhurried as he continues what he believes is a long-term overhaul of the playing squad,

"You never stop," Calderwood said. "You don't put the full stop at the end of it and think 'that's us'. I think there will be a couple of real talented ones that we should always be open to. If we don't get them then there's always January and then there's next season. It never ever stops. There's always money. There's always ways of getting money.There's still one or two things I think we could do with. We've got a good group here and we've got to go and become a team and get some good results. We've got a good foundation to go from and it's less of a number I want to bring in now than it was at the start of pre-season. It always will be a work in progress. You've got to keep evolving the team. You've got to remember the number that left and the number we had that were just out of the under-19s. That was making up four or five in a 21-man squad."

At 19, Airey is still an unknown quantity at first-team level. Calderwood knows his potential from his own time as assistant manager at Newcastle, but said it had yet to be seen how that potential would be realised in the SPL. "We've got to find his qualities. I've got a rough idea; he's got athleticism, he's got a youthfulness about him and he's someone who runs the opposite way - he runs in behind and continues to run in behind.

"But that's at youth-team or reserve-team level, so he's got to get to the pitch of first-team action. Through the period of his loan, he will. It will be very interesting to see how he progresses."

Tomorrow's game is sure to provide a measure of Hibs' overall progress, too. After losing to Celtic on the opening weekend of the season they snatched a morale-boosting win at Inverness in their only other league fixture so far, a match which they might easily have lost. Against Kilmarnock they will face a different kind of test, from a team who are acquiring a reputation for the kind of patient, passing football which not too long ago characterised Hibs.

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"We've seen a few videos of Kilmarnock and they try to play total football, to the extreme sometimes," O'Connor noted. "If we can just sit back, soak the play up and then try and hit them the way they do to other teams ... As a squad, we're realising we don't have to pass the ball into the net.

"It will be a funny kind of game. Maybe we'll just bide our time until we get our opportunity. But it's going to be a tough game. They beat us twice down there last season so we need to drill into the boys that it will be a tough game and try and get a victory."

Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels, meanwhile, has backed new signing Jorge Galan to be a hit in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League - even if he fails to receive international clearance in time for tomorrow's match.

The 22-year-old striker has joined the Rugby Park outfit on a season-long loan from Spanish side Osasuna. And Shiels is confident the young forward has what it takes to provide the goals for Kilmarnock this term. He said: "He's a striker, he scores goals, he's quick and mobile and he brings a different type of striker to the table, that we needed. We've been working on it for a while and I'm pleased that we've got him. We've done our research and they've done their research on us as well and they are pleased that he's coming to us.He certainly looks as though he can progress from here."

Shiels admits he is sweating over the player's availability ahead of Hibs' visit. "With international clearance and things like that, we don't know how soon he is going to be ready in terms of registration," he said. "It will probably be next week for the Hearts game."