Alan Stubbs today hailed Farid El Alagui as a great addition to his squad, insisting Hibs fans should be “very happy” to have the striker at Easter Road.
As the Evening News revealed, the Capital club beat off competition from Scottish Premiership sides St Johnstone and Dundee as well as a number of English clubs to clinch the 28-year-old’s signature.
But head coach Stubbs is warning supporters they’ll have to wait to see the Bordeaux-born Moroccan in action with the former Falkirk and Brentford forward unlikely to feature in tonight’s friendly against Dunfermline at East End Park because he is slightly behind his new team-mates in their preparations for the new season.
However, Stubbs is convinced El Alagui will recapture the form which saw him score 27 goals in 43 games in his one season with the Bairns, acutely aware that Hibs’ paltry total of just 31 goals in 38 matches was a major factor in their shock relegation to the Championship.
The striker became a free agent at the end of his two-year contract with Brentford, having spent the last six months of that deal on loan with Dundee United.
Describing himself as “delighted” to have secured El Alagui, his second signing after the arrival last week of right back David Gray, Stubbs said: “He’s a great signing for the club with the competition we fought off, two Premiership clubs and a number in England who wanted to sign him.
“Everyone should be really happy with the fact we’ve been able to capture him. He is going to be a great addition to the squad for the coming season. We’ve watched quite a bit of him. He probably didn’t play as much last season as he would have liked, but he has proved he can score goals.”
Confirming he had rejected offers from elsewhere, 6ft 1in El Alagui said: “As soon as I came here the move felt right; I felt good about playing for Hibs. When I met Alan I was impressed because he is young and enthusiastic and he wants to bring something new to the club.
“I think the Scottish Championship will be a very exciting league.
“I had a few other offers to consider before I chose Hibs, but I thought this was the most exciting challenge and I was very clear in my head I wanted to be here.”
Stubbs, however, revealed that he will be reluctant to pitch his latest arrival straight into action tonight. He said: “We have to be careful. Farid is a week or so behind everyone else.”
Hibs will also be without veteran striker Paul Heffernan who is still nursing the thigh problem which prevented him playing in Hibs’ first two friendlies while teenager Jason Cummings tweaked a hamstring in the 4-0 victory over Berwick Rangers at the weekend.
Stubbs said: “We are monitoring Paul, he’s still feeling his thigh and we don’t want to bring him in too soon. We want him to be right for the start of the season. Jason isn’t too serious, he’s strained a few fibres and hopefully he won’t be out too long.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs today further strengthened his backroom staff with the arrival of highly respected Motherwell physio John Porteous, the longest serving member of the Fir Park set-up having been with the Lanarkshire club for almost 23 years.
Stubbs, who is set to add Andy Holden and goalkeeping coach Alan Combe to his team, said: “We are working to get good people in place.”