Kid gloves Calum Antell today set his sights on forcing his way into Hibs boss Pat Fenlon’s plans after agreeing a new one-year contract with the Easter Road side.
As things stand at the moment, the 20-year-old is second choice to Ben Williams, snapped up by Fenlon from Colchester United last week as negotiations over a new contract for Mark Brown appear to have stalled. Antell, who was born in Abergavenny, but raised in Ebbw Vale, is a member of the squad based in the Netherlands for Hibs’ mini-European tour and, he revealed, he’s hoping to catch Fenlon’s eye by getting some game time in the remaining matches, tonight’s clash with Belgian outfit OH Leuven, against a Zeeland Select tomorrow or in Tuesday’s final fixture with Union Berlin in Germany.
The former Welsh Under-19 internationalist joined Hibs as an Academy player two years ago having spent a similar period on a scholarship with Swindon Town. before graduating into the professional ranks last summer.
But with Graham Stack and Brown contesting the No 1 slot last season he was loaned out to East Stirling and was a great success with The Shire, an ever-present in John Coughlin’s side, captaining the team and winning two player of the ear awards. However, East Stirling ended up bottom of the Third Division for the sixth time in ten years with Antell forced to pick the ball out of the net 86 times in the 35 League matches he played plus another three in a League Cup defeat by Dumbarton.
Antell has been limited to just two substitute appearances for Hibs, both coincidentally against East Fife in Methil, last weekend’s 2-0 win and a 3-1 victory a year ago.
But now he is looking forward to gaining as much first-team experience as possible. He said: “I’m really pleased to have agreed my new contract and I’m looking forward to the next year with Hibs.
“Last year was a real learning curve for me and I felt I learned a massive amount during my time at East Stirling – it helped me to develop as a goalkeeper.
“Now I’m aiming to play as much as I can for Hibs and hopefully I will get some game-time during the tour. I’m keen to learn as much as I can from [goalkeeping coach] Scott Thomson and also from Ben, so that I can become a better keeper.”
Midfield star Isaiah Osbourne’s move to English Championship club Blackpool has finally gone through after five days of negotiation. His departure from Easter Road halfway through his two-year contract is said to have netted Hibs a six-figure sum.
Meanwhile, Fenlon has denied claims Dutch defender Norichio Nieveld will be joining his squad for the remainder of their mini-tour of Europe. A report emanating from the Netherlands had suggested the 23-year-old, freed by Feynoord at the end of last season, was to begin a short trial but Fenlon insisted that other than former Hearts star Alan Maybury, he doesn’t envisage any trialists arriving before Hibs return to Edinburgh on Wednesday.
• Hibs Under-20s clinched the Foyle Cup with a 1-0 win over Ballymena at Ardmore thanks to a goal from striker Jay Doyle.
• Former Hibs star Ian Murray is on trial with Jim Jefferies’ Dunfermline Athletic.