Hibs Boss Alan Stubbs today admitted signing striker Jamie Insall was “a gamble,” but he’s convinced that it will pay off.
Insall clinched a three-year deal following a month-long trial with the Edinburgh outfit, Stubbs plucking him from Stourbridge, a club which operates in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division, the seventh tier of English football but the highest level at which the prolific striker had ever played.
But Stubbs pointed to the example of Jamie Vardy who has risen from non-league football to Barclays Premier League club Leicester City and the England squad as proof there are hidden talents to be found if you look hard enough.
The Hibs head coach said: “It would be fantastic if something like that could happen to Jamie but we just feel we’ve seen something there we can work on. He has a few edges which need polishing. He is a work in progress, we’re going to get a lot of work in and spent a bit of time with him, but he is a bit different to our other strikers.”
Insall will initially play for Hibs’ development squad as he “gets up to speed” working on his fitness as a full-time professional but Stubbs has no doubts as to the 22-year-old’s determination to make the best of this unexpected opportunity.
He said: “At the end of the three years we will see if we have found a wee gem or if it’s an opportunity that’s not necessarily worked out the way we would have thought.
“Jamie obviously knows where the goal his, he has a great attitude and is very enthusiastic. There are obviously bits of his game we need to help him with but he’s anxious to give himself the best chance to improve and get better. I’m quietly optimistic about him. It’s a gamble but not in a bad way, you only have to look at Vardy at Leicester.”
And Stubbs, who personally picked Insall up at Waverley Railway Station at 11 o’clock at night as he arrived for a trial match, revealed the 22-year-old has taken the move in his stride, already at home with his new team-mates, saying: “It has a nice feel to it, he’s the sort of kid you want to do well.
“Everyone has taken to him, he has a smile on his face, he’s very humble and very appreciative of the opportunity we have given him and that’s nice to see.”
Stubbs, of course, was well aware of the unsavoury incident earlier in Insall’s career, the player receiving a suspended jail term and 250 hours community work after breaking an opponent’s jaw with a punch, but the ex-Bolton, Celtic and Everton defender said: “Everyone deserves a second chance, sometimes people deserve more than a second chance. We all make mistakes but that doesn’t make you a bad person.”
Insall’s arrival had been much anticipated by the Hibs support but Stubbs explained the lengthy delay in clinching the deal was down to no more than the Capital side ensuring the paperwork was in place given the striker had played for a plethora of clubs.
He said: “We knew it was going to happen so there was no rush. We just wanted to make sure there would be nothing that would catch us unawares, clubs suddenly coming and saying they were due this and that.
“We made a small payment to Stourbridge, although we were under no obligation to do so. We always try to do the right things. Strourbridge were very good with us, very open, very professional and that was the least we felt we could have done to help them.”