ALAN STUBBS has insisted patience has paid off as he’s finally got a squad in place capable of tackling the season ahead.
Having started the season with only 11 first-team players available as Hibs faced Rangers in the Petrofac Training Cup, the head coach is now almost spoiled for choice with transfer deadline-day arrivals Islam Feruz and Henri Anier lifting that number to 20.
Stubbs refused to panic as those early-season games saw him contend with a host of injuries which, at one point, left him with a solitary striker in Jason Cummings while his bench was packed with five teenagers, four of whom couldn’t muster one minute of first-team action among them.
New arrivals James Keatings, Dan Carmichael and the returning Martin Boyle were among those sidelined but today Stubbs contended that patiently awaiting their return while quietly acquiring the likes of John McGinn, Marvin Bartley, Darren McGregor, Dylan McGeouch and finally Feruz and Anier, has provided him with the competition for places he’s been demanding.
He said: “We have a very healthy looking squad, quite literally, from having 11 first-team players available for the Petrofac Cup game we have, potentially 19 or 20. From that point of view, it tells you all about having a bit of time and patience.
“We didn’t rush the injured players but now we’ve got them back, we’ve brought players in during the window and suddenly now we are in much better shape for the tasks ahead. It’s all about competition. Darren McGregor coming in creates competition at the back and, in midfield, we have really healthy competition.
“I think overall, between new signings, lads who were here on loan making it permanent, players re-signing and those who have arrived on loan, we’ve brought in something like 17 players so I am very happy with what we have done. The lads understand that when you have such competition no-one is guaranteed a starting place or a shirt because you have to perform week in, week out.”
The stiffest competition, however, would appear to be up front where Stubbs has Dominique Malonga, Cummings, Keatings, Feruz, Anier and, when he is finally fit, Farid El Alagui, along with Jamie Insall, who will start, initially, with the club’s development squad.
Stubbs, though, insisted: “It’s the one position you always want more in. At one point, we only had one fit striker. Now we have five, six when Farid is back, seven if Jamie can force his way into the plans.
“It gives us better options. Henri has joined from Dundee United, an example of how sometimes a move does not work out the way you think, but he had a good time at Motherwell. He has a really good understanding of the Scottish game. He is very quick, athletic, direct and scores goals so he gives us yet another option.”