Stubbs believes Hibs can reach a new level

Alan Stubbs with backroom staff and players watch the game. Picture: Eric McCowat
Alan Stubbs with backroom staff and players watch the game. Picture: Eric McCowat
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Alan Stubbs believes his players are ready to take their pre-season preparations to a new level after returning from a seven-day training camp in the south of Spain.

The Hibs squad completed their stay in La Manga by slipping to a 2-1 defeat by English League One side Wigan Athletic in a bounce match on their final evening with Stubbs giving 18 players a minimum of 45 minutes as planned.

Watched by national boss Gordon Strachan and former Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish, who both have properties at the resort, and with Spanish side Sevilla, one of an astonishing 118 clubs who have used the complex’s facilities in recent months also in attendance, Hibs took the lead with Fraser Fyvie scoring against his old team-mates.

Stubbs rang the changes at half-time with only teenagers Aaron Dunsmore, Callum Crane, Scott Martin and Lewis Allan playing the entire 90 minutes. Martyn Waghorn equalised for Gary Caldwell’s side before claiming the winner in the dying seconds.

Nevertheless, the Easter Road head coach was delighted with what he had seen. He said: “I thought it was very good. The most important thing was rounding off the week’s training and I think it was perfect for everything.

“First half was really good, second half we should probably have kept the ball better as a team but overall I was really happy with the exercise. It will bring the lads on a lot from where we have been so overall I was very pleased.

“One or two had upsets stomachs or were feeling a bit tight so we just did not want to take any chances with them so giving the youngsters 90 minutes will be good experience for them as they will have expectations of coming up.”

New striker James Keatings did not feature nor did Keith Watson who is hoping to clinch a permanent deal having spent the second half of last season on loan from Dundee United, Stubbs explaining: “They both felt a little bit tight, a bit stiff, that’s all. There was no point in taking any risks. We’ll give them a couple of days to settle down and I don’t see it as being a problem.”

Hibs move on to face Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park tomorrow night (kick-off 7.45 pm), Stubbs saying: “We’ll look to progress on these minutes on the pitch – and the one thing we know is it won’t be 29°C at kick-off time.”