HIBS boss Pat Fenlon has signalled he’s ready to give youth a fling as he begins his overhaul of the Easter Road squad.
The new manager has made no secret of the fact he needs fresh talent, having seen his side lose four successive matches, slumping to the foot of the SPL table where only goal difference separates them from bottom-placed Dunfermline.
The Irishman has already made his first move into the transfer market, returning to his homeland to snap up Eoin Doyle.
The Sligo Rovers striker notched 25 goals in the League of Ireland season just ended and although red tape prevents him playing before the transfer window opens, he is in line for a baptism of fire in Monday’s derby with arch-rivals Hearts at Easter Road.
But while, understandably, Fenlon’s prime attention has been on the first team and their shortcomings, the club’s youngsters haven’t been forgotten with the manager having taken in Under-19 matches.
Under Fenlon, 18-year-old Ross Caldwell made his first team debut, albeit only the final five minutes of the recent clash with SPL champions Rangers, and midfielder Sam Stanton has also caught his eye.
The 18-year-old has been training with the first team squad and was part of the travelling party for the last two matches away to Aberdeen and Dundee United, although he didn’t make the bench on either occasion.
Stanton did, however, impress in a closed-doors match, Fenlon an interested onlooker as he scored in a 3-0 win against St Johnstone before the manager went on to watch the Under-19s beat Spartans 3-1 later the same day.
Like most Scottish managers Fenlon will have to operate on a tight budget as he revamps his squad, one which he described as “not huge” with numbers set to diminish with Junior Agogo and Matt Thornhill poised to leave the club.
To that end, while putting the Under-19 squad under close scrutiny, Fenlon is also pondering the immediate futures of a clutch of kids currently out on loan to gain first team experience.
While goalkeeper Calum Antell’s loan deal with East Stirling has been extended by a month, Scott Smith, David Crawford, Scott Taggart and Lewis Horner are set to return to Easter Road next month.
Fenlon said: “The boys out on loan are coming towards the end of their deals so we are looking at that. It’s difficult to get players in in January, we don’t have a huge squad and it’s important we don’t leave ourselves threadbare.”