Hibs set to swoop for Stoke city pair

Pat Fenlon
Pat Fenlon
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Hibs were today poised to snap up Stoke City midfielders Michael Tonge and Tom Soares after the relegation-threatened Easter Road club again fell to just one point from bottom place in the SPL table.

Boss Pat Fenlon has insisted he’s been working “morning, noon and night” in his efforts to revamp the failing squad he inherited from predecessor Colin Calderwood. But while Junior Agogo, Matt Thornhill, Victor Palsson and David Crawford have all left – with Akpo Sodje likely to join them in heading for the exit door – so far Fenlon has only managed to add Irish striker Eoin Doyle and on-loan Norwich City kid George Francomb.

Now Fenlon faces a race against time to bolster his squad with only eight days of the January transfer window remaining and fans becoming increasingly anxious about SPL survival following Saturday’s defeat by St Johnstone, a result which leaves them with only one home league win in almost a year.

Fenlon missed the after-match press conference, said to have had to dash away on the final whistle, but, according to reports circulating down south today he’s lined up loan moves for Tonge and Soares who have fallen out of favour at the Britannia Stadium. At 28 and with almost 300 appearances for Sheffield United, Tonge certainly has the experience Fenlon is seeking to help guide his youngsters – Saturday’s starting line-up containing five under-21 internationalists along with Francomb.

A £2 million signing by Stoke, Tonge has struggled to earn himself a regular starting place, spending two spells on loan at Preston and another with Derby County and was left out of the Stoke squads named for the first half of both the English Premier League and Europa League this season.

Soares has similarly found life difficult since his £1.25m move from Crystal Palace and, like Tonge, has only found action while on loan, in his case at Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday.

Fenlon, however, has refused to comment on possible arrivals, insisting it would be wrong to do so until agreements are reached, the Irishman having been linked with moves for Coventry City defender James McPake, St Mirren midfielder Jim Goodwin as well as Shamrock Rovers striker Gary Twigg.

He will, though, cast an eye over Arsenal kid Rhys Murphy in a closed doors match against Partick Thistle today, the Republic of Ireland striker having spent the last week on trial with Hibs.