ALAN STUBBS today insisted Alex Harris has a bright future at Easter Road, despite deciding to farm the winger out on loan to Dundee for the rest of the season.
In a surprise move, the 20-year-old made the switch to Dens Park, with Dark Blues forward Martin Boyle heading in the opposite direction. The deal was struck in time to allow Boyle to feature in the derby at Tynecastle, while Harris was on from the start as Dundee drew 1-1 with Ross County yesterday.
Harris has found himself on the fringes of Stubbs’ plans in recent weeks, relegated to the bench as Hibs strung together an impressive record which has seen them beaten just once in their last 14 Championship matches.
However, Stubbs believes a spell on Tayside playing Premiership football can help the youngster recapture the form he showed when he burst on to the first-team scene with that stunning strike to spark Hibs’ Scottish Cup semi-final fightback against Falkirk, only to break his ankle on the opening day of the following season.
The Easter Road head coach said: “I felt this was an opportunity for us to give Alex a chance to maybe get some more playing time, a chance for him to have a change of scenery and a chance for him to develop.
“I still think he is a player of huge potential and by no means does this suggest Alex is not in my plans.”
The arrival of 21-year-old Boyle will, Stubbs revealed, be the first of several moves he intends on making, hoping that new faces can be brought in earlier rather than later in this January transfer window.
He said: “We got word a week or ten days ago that something might happen. Martin played 45 minutes of the Tayside derby on Thursday and then trained with us on Friday when we got all the paperwork done, though we couldn’t get things registered until Saturday morning.
“He’ll give us a different dimension as he will bring real pace to the team. He is very direct and it was a good opportunity for us to maybe give us a bit of flexibility in how we play.
“I’m still looking to do some business and we’ll look to do a lot of it early on if we can.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs revealed that Everton winger Matty Kennedy will be returning to Goodison Park as his loan spell with Hibs comes to an end, the youngster having, like Harris, found game time at a premium since the head coach switched to a diamond formation in the middle of the park.
Stubbs said: “He’s been unfortunate, to be honest. He came in and did well early on but unfortunately results did not reflect that. We changed it a little bit, things seemed to click and unfortunately he found himself out of the team and when the team is winning it can be difficult to get back in.”
Goalkeeper Mark Oxley’s loan deal from Hull City is also due to expire this month but Stubbs doesn’t envisage any problems in agreeing an extension saying: “Our dialogue with Hull has been good, very positive and as far as we are aware, we don’t expect there to be any problems.”