Stubbs: Spain trip proof of Hibs’ promotion desire

Alan Stubbs directs training at Hibs' training base in La Manga. Pic: Eric McCowat

Alan Stubbs directs training at Hibs' training base in La Manga. Pic: Eric McCowat

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ALAN STUBBS today insisted the expense of Hibs’ week-long training camp in the sunshine of Spain was yet another sign of the Easter Road club’s determination to win promotion at the first time of asking.

The head coach revealed he’s had the full backing of his board and claimed his budget has been stretched beyond its limit as the club “bent over backwards” to give him all he needs in their push for a return to the Premiership.

Stubbs admitted the cheap option would have been to train at their East Mains base as his players had an 18-day wait between clinching second place in the Championship with victory at Falkirk and the first of their play-off games against either Rangers or Queen of the South a week today. However, he revealed: “I’ve been given everything I’ve asked for.

“The budget is probably more than it should have been. They’ve bent over backwards to try and help me put together something on the pitch that is going to take the team forward.

“I think what they’ve seen has helped them be able to say ‘yes’. We’ve brought in good players but also players who have a value. And that’s what we want to do. It’s all right bringing in players for one or two years who leave on a free but we want to build a team that is exciting, young and fresh and has a hunger about it.” And, although he’d promised the trip to La Manga would be no holiday – the players undergoing double training sessions each day – Stubbs said: “They’ve loved it so far. I’ve been in their shoes before and I know whenever you come to a climate and an environment where it’s really good they enjoy coming onto the pitch. They enjoy the sun but the most important thing as a group of players is that they enjoy each other’s company. This backs up the way the club have been with me this season. They’ve been absolutely fantastic and not just because they’re providing this trip.”

While Stubbs’ immediate thoughts are concentrated on what he hopes will be the first of two rounds of play-off matches, he revealed he’s also looking towards next season and hoping he can not only keep the bulk of his current squad together but add to it.

As things stand, club skipper Liam Craig along with Scott Robertson, Liam Fontaine, Lewis Stevenson, Tomas Cerny and Fraser Fyvie are all out of contract at the end of this season while the loan deals of Mark Oxley, Dylan McGeouch, Keith Watson and Martin Boyle are drawing to a close.

And although he’s in “limbo” at the moment not knowing if Hibs will be in the top flight next season or consigned to another year in the Championship, Stubbs said: “We knew what the parameters were at the start of the season.

“We wanted to go up automatically. We knew second best was going to be in the play-offs. From that point of view, it’s not surprised us.

“From a contractual point of view, we’re speaking to all the ones we want to at this moment in time. That’s already started. We would like to have tied up ones before now but a lot of clubs would be the same.

“We’ve spoken to all the players’ agents and we’re trying to work our way throughout behind the scenes as football continues. I don’t think promotion has a huge significance. My budget is very competitive. If we go up, it may be that I may have a couple of more players. I’m working working towards tying everyone down that I’ve got and then maybe one or two new contracts as well.”