Paul Heckingbottom: I want to get Hibs recruits in sooner rather than later

Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom is intent on finalising his squad “sooner rather than later”, admitting he still has to strengthen certain areas.

Paul Heckingbottom has targets for Hibs in mind. Pic: SNS

Heckingbottom has already brought in five players this summer – midfielder Joe Newell, striker Christian Doidge, defenders Tom James and Adam Jackson, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell as well as playmaker Scott Allan, who had agreed a pre-contract deal to return to Easter Road before the former Barnsley and Leeds United boss replaced Neil Lennon in February.

But while delighted with the transfer business concluded so far, Heckingbottom wants to add to that number, with striker Marc McNulty and Belgian Under-21 midfielder Stephane Omeonga – who both made big impressions while on loan in the Capital last season – remaining on the radar, although the pair remain under contract at Reading and Genoa respectively.

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Having cut short Australian captain Mark Milligan’s contract and with Marvin Bartley moving to Livingston, Heckingbottom is short of a midfield anchorman. Scunthorpe United’s Funso Ojo had appeared close to joining Hibs, but that interest waned when it became apparent the 27-year-old was in dispute his club following their relegation to League Two, the Belgian claiming demotion activated a release clause in his contract with The Iron adamant he remained their player.

Whether Heckingbottom might make a second move for Ojo should that row be resolved remains to be seen, as does the possibility of either McNulty or Omeonga – or both – returning, but the Hibs boss has made it clear he has to also pursue other potential signings.

Heckingbottom, who takes his squad south tonight to play Carlisle United at Brunton Park in a third pre-season friendlly ahead of Saturday’s opening Betfred Cup tie against Stirling Albion, said: “We are still weak in certain positions so we want to get players in sooner rather than later.

“Will it go up to the end of the window? I would be disappointed if it took that long.”