Alan Stubbs believes Adam Eckersley is already having a positive influence on the Hibs dressing-room even though he is yet to make his debut.
The experienced former Hearts left-back signed a short-term deal at Easter Road five weeks ago, but has only just returned to fitness after undergoing a knee operation in the summer. He could be on the bench for today’s match at home to Dumbarton, but is more likely to be involved away to either Falkirk on Tuesday or Raith Rovers next Saturday.
Despite his lack of action, Stubbs has been impressed with the way 30-year-old Eckersley, a naturally confident and vocal character, has made his presence felt during his early days on the training pitch at East Mains.
“Eckers has been out for five months but now he’s had a week’s training,” Stubbs told the Evening News. “He’s worked hard to get where he is. He’ll be around the squad against Dumbarton but he’s probably more likely to be involved against Falkirk or Raith. We need to make sure he’s ready when we do put him in.
“He’s a vibrant, strong-headed personality who will be good for the squad. In this squad, you can see there are some strong individuals who are demanding that the players are all on it in training and if there’s a dip in energy or performances, you can see them getting on at each other, which is great.
“Eckers is still finding his feet after coming into the group but you can already see him starting to be vocal. There have been a few who have been vocal this week and getting on each other’s back, in the right way. The standards are getting so high now that if it drops, players are getting told about it from their team-mates in no uncertain terms.”
Eckersley isn’t the only new recruit waiting to make his debut. A thigh injury has kept striker Henri Anier sidelined since joining on loan from Dundee United on transfer-deadline day. “Henri’s not far away,” said Stubbs. “He’s running and he’s having contact with the ball – he’s maybe a week to ten days away tops from being involved with the group.
“He was close to coming back but then he had a little setback with it. Now he’s pain-free, he doesn’t feel it whatsoever so we’re gradually increasing his work and his rehab.”