Pat FENLON has confirmed Hibs will return for pre- season training on Monday, June 17 – just 22 days after their Scottish Cup final against Celtic.
His squad will be back at East Mains earlier than usual as they begin their preparations for their Europa League adventure, the Capital club entering the competition in the second qualifying round. The first leg will be played on July 18 and the second a week later, both games taking place before the new SPL season gets under way.
Today Fenlon revealed the finishing touches are being put to Hibs’ pre-season plans, which had to be put on hold pending the outcome of their Hampden showdown with Celtic, as victory would have meant starting in the Europa League in the third qualifying round and a later return to action.
He said: “It was difficult to organise not knowing when you are back, so we’ve been working on two different plans. We had a lot of it in place, so we’ve been working this week confirming dates, crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, that sort of stuff.”
While pleased with the progress made on that front, Hibs will not release details of their pre-season programme until all dates, venues and the like have been confirmed.
Hibs will learn their Europa League opponents when the draws for the first and second qualifying rounds are made at UEFA’s Swiss headquarters in Nyon on June 24. Their task and that of St Johnstone, who enter at the same stage, will made difficult by the fact they will be unseeded. Nevertheless, Fenlon observed: “There are some big teams [in the draw], but there’s a few that you are thinking you have a chance against. The draw, of course, is out of our hands. We have to get on with it whoever we are drawn against, but hopefully it won’t involved too much travelling.”
Meanwhile, Hibs aim to lift the East of Scotland Shield for a ninth year in a row when they face Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow (kick-off 6pm). The match is between the clubs’ Under-17 sides, but Hibs can call on Jamie Beaton, Callum Crane, Max Todd, Jordan Sinclair, Neil Martyniuk, Jonny Court and Aaron Dunsmore, who have all gained Under-20 experience this season.
Admission is free, but there will be bucket collections around the ground.