Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has revealed he plans to add another three players to his squad despite having already made eight signings this summer.
Mark Oxley, Liam Fontaine, Fraser Fyvie, Martin Boyle and Lewis Stevenson have all agreed new contracts while Stubbs has recruited Antonio Reguero, Dan Carmichael and James Keatings with, as the Evening News revealed earlier this week, Keith Watson closing in on a deal.
The former Dundee United defender, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Easter Road, has joined Stubbs’ squad in La Manga and is keen to make a permanent move to Hibs.
But, Stubbs disclosed, he hopes to add two new faces over and above Watson while insisting he doesn’t need to let anyone go to do so.
The head coach has already intimated to Sam Stanton, Danny Handling and Alex Harris that they are likely to find game time limited next season as Hibs make their second bid for promotion and that he wouldn’t stand in their way if they want to go out on loan.
However, all three have spent this week training in the sweltering heat in the south of Spain and, Stubbs insisted, he’s in no rush to force their hand.
He said: “I think when you have a window there’s always a work in progress. I think we have the nucleus of a group that I am content with. I still think we probably need two or three other names to come into the group who are really going to help us – one of them being a central midfielder. We are still obviously a bit light in there.
“There are things on-going but I am not going to rush it if it means getting the right player. I have said that all along. There are things going on as we speak, but nothing concrete at this moment to announce.”
Stubbs admitted he was delighted with the support he’s received from his board not only in regard to signings but holding on to his top players.
Scott Allan, of course, has been at the centre of intense speculation linking him with a move to one of either Celtic or Rangers.
But Hibs are adamant there have been no approaches other than Dundee United’s bid – rejected out of hand – in the January transfer window to tempt their former player back to Tannadice in an attempt to placate their own fans having lost both Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong to the Hoops.
Stubbs said: “I am happy. The board and the club have been very supportive in allowing me to try to put my stamp on the players and whenever anybody has come along – and we have only had one inquiry about a player – it was not even a discussion.
“You need to be able to do that. If you want to achieve something, you have to be able to keep your better players.”
While adamant he still has scope within his existing budget to add further new faces, freeing up wages by allowing players who appear to be on the fringes of his plans to leave on loan would perhaps give Stubbs a little more freedom.
However, he insisted he’s comfortable with the way things stand, saying: “I find myself in the same boat as a lot of managers at this moment in time. To maximise the squad you sometimes have to freshen it up and in order to do that sometimes players have to go out before players come in.
“I am not at that stage just yet, I still have room for a bit of flexibility whether or not they go out but the conversation was the same as I had a couple of weeks ago: you are here, you work hard, you do well, then fine. If you are wanting to play week in, week out I cannot guarantee that.”
• HIBS have appointed Stephen Dunn as a non-executive director.
Dunn previously served on the club’s board during the late 1990s and early 2000s and is a director of Hibernian Supporters Limited, the company set up to raise funds and buy shares in Hibs.
• A Hibs XI will take on East of Scotland League outfit Ormiston at the East Mains Training Complex on Sunday (kick-off 2.00pm).
Admission is £5 for adults and £1 for concessions.