Alan Stubbs today revealed his confidence that Paul Heffernan will be fit for the start of the season, despite the veteran striker having not kicked a ball in Hibs’ four warm-up matches so far.
Absent from the pre-season friendlies against Vale of Leithen, Berwick Rangers and Dunfermline, Heffernan was again missing as the Hibees clocked up a fourth successive clean sheet as they defeated Stirling Albion 2-0 at Forthbank.
However, with Hibs’ opening game of the new campaign – a Petrofac Training Cup clash at Rangers – just 15 days away, Stubbs claimed to be “relaxed” about the 32-year-old’s situation as he recovers from a thigh injury.
The head coach said: “We are just being really cautious with him because he has had this injury before. He will step up his fitness next week. We will just monitor him, but he will be ready for the first game of the season, I have no qualms about that whatsoever. We will just ease him in, that’s all.”
Stubbs took the opportunity to “ease in” his second signing of the summer, former Falkirk striker Farid El Alagui, as goals from Jordon Forster and Alex Harris earned Hibs victory yesterday, the Bordeaux-born player’s first taste of action lasting an hour.
And although El Alagui didn’t get on the scoresheet, Stubbs expressed his satisfaction with his performance, believing he will bring an added threat to a side which scored just 31 goals in 38 Scottish Premiership matches last season.
He said: “We, and especially the players, are still finding out about Farid. But I think it was there for all to see in the time he was on that he is going to give us an added edge up front.
“It was good for him to get those minutes under his belt but we’ll proceed with caution and make sure we do not rush him too quickly.”
Hibs also fielded French goalkeeper Antoine Gounet against Stirling, the former Brentford player enjoying the entire 90 minutes, but as Stubbs observed, “he didn’t have an awful lot to do,” adding: “He is someone we are looking at. He’d only been with us a couple of days so we’ll see how this week progresses.”
Stubbs also hopes to see further arrivals this week, having signed only El Alagui and David Gray thus far. Admitting progress hasn’t been as quick as he’d have liked, he re-iterated his determination to ensure those who do come in strengthen his squad.
He said: “There are one or two areas I would like to strengthen. We have one or two things on the go. It’s not what I want but I am prepared to give it these extra days if it means getting the right person in.”