HIBS boss Pat Fenlon has warned his latest signings they cannot expect to walk straight into his team after watching his Easter Road stars stretch their unbeaten SPL run to five games.
Fenlon kept faith with the starting XI which had twice fought back to claim a draw at Celtic Park and was rewarded with a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock which lifted the Capital outfit into second place in the table at the weekend. But his decision meant on-loan Manchester City defender Ryan McGivern got no closer than a seat on the bench, while Tom Taiwo, who has became Fenlon’s ninth summer signing, watched from the stand alongside former Finnish international striker Shefki Kuqi.
Fenlon said: “I think the players we have in the team at the moment have done really well. We have brought in some players but they are going to have to work hard to get into the team. It helps that we have some quality players who did not play, it all helps in relation to keeping players on their toes, getting them to work as hard as they possibly can because they know if they drop their standards there’s someone there to come in and play.”
Today 22-year-old midfielder Taiwo, who will play in tonight’s Under-20 match against Dunfermline at East End Park (kick-off 7pm), insisted he had no quarrel with Fenlon’s approach although he admitted he was desperate to kickstart his Hibs career following his move from Carlisle United as a free agent.
Taiwo, who played some 150 games for the Brunton Park club, including two Wembley appearances in the final of the Football League Trophy, said: “The manager has said you have to play for your shirt. If someone in the firs team is not quite doing it and you are turning in top performances for the reserves then it will be hard for him to leave you out. But he knows at the moment I am not 100 per cent fit. I can run all day, but that’s not the same as match intensity. Tonight’s game will help and once I have some more under my belt I’m sure I’ll have a chat with the manager and we’ll go into a bit of detail as to what he expects my role will be.”
Although he is only 5ft 7in tall and slightly built, Taiwo has no doubt he’ll cope with the physical nature of the Scottish game. He said: “I’m not frightened of a tackle and for a small guy I can jump. I feel I am an
energetic, wholehearted player, a simple player who doesn’t over-complicate things. But the one thing the fans can expect from me is 100 per cent.”
Meanwhile, referee Steven McLean has credited Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths with both goals against Killie. There was a question mark over his first as Rugby Park goalkeeper Kyle Letheren fumbled Griffiths’ corner into his net but the double takes the on-loan Wolves star’s tally for the season to five.