Bolstering attack will be Neil Lennon’s Hibs priority

James Keatings, left, and Jason Cummings are Hibs' only main strikers at present. Pic: SNS
James Keatings, left, and Jason Cummings are Hibs' only main strikers at present. Pic: SNS
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New Hibs boss Neil Lennon will prioritise the signing of a striker as he begins to reshape his Easter Road squad.

Lennon and his assistant Gary Parker will meet the players for the first time as they return for pre-season training tomorrow and although he has inherited a healthy number of players from his predecessor Alan Stubbs, the former Celtic and Bolton Wanderers manager has indicated he’ll be looking to strengthen certain areas.

And it is upfront where he is likely to immediately turn his attention, the Capital club once awash with strikers but now left with only top scorer Jason Cummings and James Keatings as recognised out-and-out hitmen with Jamie Insall, who spent last season on loan at East Fife after arriving on a three year deal from non-league football in England, as back-up.

Dominique Malonga and Henri Anier departed during the January transfer window, the Congolese internationalist moving back to Italy while the Estonian striker’s loan spell ended with his return to 
Dundee United.

Anthony Stokes did arrive at that stage on loan from Celtic, but the hero of Hibs historic Scottish Cup triumph against Rangers is now with Blackburn Rovers, while injury-plagued Farid El Alagui and Chris Dagnall both headed for the exit door.

Lennon, who has been working for the BBC at the European Championships in France, and Parker have been studying video footage of Hibs in action last season although the former Northern Ireland internationalist has already identified greater consistency as being the key to returning the club to the Premiership at this, the third time of asking.

However, tomorrow will represent the first chance for the new management team to meet their players at East Mains, some of whom they will know better than others, and begin to get to know them on a personal level and to assess exactly what is needed to take the team forward.

Major surgery, though, is unlikely, with the vast majority of last season’s squad still under contract, while centre half Paul Hanlon has committed to another three years, fellow defender Jordon Forster has been offered a new deal and Lennon has held “positive talks” with 20-year-old Cummings who, in any case, has another 12 months remaining on his contract.

Meanwhile, Hibs will be represented at both legs of the Europa League first qualifying round between Icelandic side Valur and Brondby of Denmark with the Capital outfit preparing to face the winners, at home on July 14 and in either Reykhavik or Copenhagen seven days later as the dossier on their potential opponents is gathered.