{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hibs","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-boss-neil-lennon-hoping-to-strengthen-his-attack-1-4662706","id":"1.4662706","articleHeadline": "Hibs boss Neil Lennon hoping to strengthen his attack","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516106090000 ,"articleLead": "

Neil Lennon is hopeful of bringing more new faces to Hibs in the current transfer window, with the emphasis on strengthening his attack.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662705.1516106088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is looking for 'forward-thinking players'."} ,"articleBody": "

The Easter Road club have already added goalkeeper Scott Bain and striker Jamie Maclaren this month, and the manager is keen to bolster his squad further.

However, he explained that any new arrivals may require players to depart first, with out-of-favour striker Deivydas Matulevicius already having been told he is free to leave if he can find himself a new club.

“We are looking for forward-thinking players, although we may have to trim the squad first before we can bring anybody else in,” Lennon told Sky Sports today.

“It’s a question of ‘wait and see’ but we have already lined up some options in a number of positions.

“At this stage of the season, we are looking to strengthen but I am very happy with the core of the squad.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662705.1516106088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662705.1516106088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neil Lennon is looking for 'forward-thinking players'.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neil Lennon is looking for 'forward-thinking players'.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662705.1516106088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/liam-fontaine-we-can-create-anfield-boot-room-at-hibs-1-4662063","id":"1.4662063","articleHeadline": "Liam Fontaine: We can create Anfield boot room at Hibs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516084246000 ,"articleLead": "

Liam Fontaine is laying plans to stay at Hibs long after his playing days are over, hoping to become part of an Easter Road “boot room” packed with former team-mates.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662062.1516034539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Fontaine"} ,"articleBody": "

The defender is just one of five Hibs players who have been undergoing their UEFA B licence, joined in his studies by club captain David Gray, Paul Hanlon, Darren McGregor and Lewis Stevenson as they look to their long-term futures.

And having been in at the start of the Capital outfit’s recent renaissance, Fontaine revealed they’d all love to help driving the club forward.

While Stevenson and Hanlon have been long-term fixtures and McGregor is a life-long Hibs fan, Fontaine believes both he and Gray now have such a strong affinity with Hibs they want to hang around when it comes to hanging up their boots.

“You never know,” he replied, when asked if he could see a Liverpool-style boot room, that famous Anfield institution which produced legendary managers such as Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Roy Evans who brought huge success to Merseyside.

“We are playing here at a time when, in my opinion, the club is on the rise and as the years tick off on your career you want to stay part of that development.

“We know what the gaffer and the club are building so why not keep it in house if you can. We all have a connection to the club and want the best for Hibs, so you never know what might happen.”

Fontaine probably had more time on his hands than his team-mates in starting his coaching badges, the 32-year-old having spent the past ten months sidelined after picking up two serious ankle injuries which limited him to just a couple of Betfred Cup matches at the beginning of the season.

“It was a terrible 2017 for me,” he admitted. “It was a freak accident when I was initially injured. I wasn’t even involved in a tackle, I was shadowing the ball out when the boy behind me was tackled and fell on my leg.”

The upshot was a cartilage being torn from the bone, Fontaine nearing peak fitness again when he suffered almost exactly the same injury in his other ankle as he fine-tuned his sharpness in a game for the Hibs development squad.

However, that time was put to good use. He said: “I was just getting myself back when it happened again. It’s hard to deal with at times, 
but you have to do it as a footballer.

“It was very frustrating watching, but doing my B licence I was able to look at matches in a different way and learn a lot about the game because it was all I could do.

“Rather than beat myself up – which is what you can do quite easily – you have to try to find things that keep you positive.”

Fontaine is well aware that he only has a few months remaining on his contract but he’s determined to push his way back into boss Neil Lennon’s plans with the aim of winning himself a new deal.

The former Bristol City player said: “I’ve been back for a little bit now and played in a development game a few weeks ago and got through that fine but obviously we had a run of games through December.

“In the Algarve last week we were asked to do double sessions every day which, on a personal level, was good. It helped my fitness and I feel good.

“The gaffer has always said it’s a squad game. We have a great squad and the boys have been doing very well. You want to play, but all you can to is put a bit of pressure on, a bit of competition. That’s healthy.

“You never know what is going to happen. You see Dave pick up that injury in Portugal unfortunately. It’s not ideal, but that’s the reason you have a squad.

“Hopefully I can be like a new player in the second half of the season. I want to get back into the team, get a run of games and show what I can do. I’m going to work hard and 
hope to earn a longer stay at Hibs which I’d love to do.”

Fontaine was fit for the last Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle but didn’t make the 18 who stripped for the game, watching instead from a vantage point behind the away dug-out, admitting he was more than a touch envious of those playing.

Now, though, he has eyes on being more involved as Lennon takes his side back across the city for Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash with the Jambos at a venue which, Fontaine agreed, has become a happy hunting ground for Hibs in recent years..

Hibs will pitch up in Gorgie looking to extend a run of nine matches unbeaten against their arch-rivals having knocked them out of the cup in each of the previous two seasons, both times taking a draw at Tynecastle before completing the job on their own turf, the first occasion famously leading to that historic victory over Rangers at Ibrox.

However, as Fontaine pointed out, he and his team-mates have done well at Tynecastle not just against Hearts.

He said: “We’ve had a good runs in the cups in recent years.

“We beat St Johnstone there in the semi-final of the League Cup and then started our cup run last season by beating Bonnyrigg Rose at Tynecastle. Hopefully we can keep that run going.

“It’s a great atmosphere to play in with the stands being so close to the pitch although these games are always good no matter where they are played.

“Everyone is always up for them, players and fans alike. They are great occasions.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662062.1516034539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662062.1516034539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Liam Fontaine","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Fontaine","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662062.1516034539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/ben-stirling-will-be-next-youngster-to-make-hibs-breakthrough-1-4661925","id":"1.4661925","articleHeadline": "Ben Stirling ‘will be next youngster to make Hibs breakthrough’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516084202000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs boss Neil Lennon has tipped 19-year-old midfielder Ben Stirling to become the next youngster to make the breakthrough at Easter Road after cutting short a loan spell at Cowdenbeath to push him into his first-team squad.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661924.1516029732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ben Stirling"} ,"articleBody": "

Stirling was part of the travelling party which spent last week in the Algarve, using the winter break to prepare for the second half of the season, just one of five teenagers to make the trip.

Lennon has already watched striker Oli Shaw make the step-up along with defender Ryan Porteous and midfielder Fraser Murray, but now he has high hopes for both Stirling and Polish goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski.

Stirling played the full 90 minutes against Excelsior Rotterdam and part of a second game against another Dutch side Willem II in Portugal and did himself no harm in the eyes of Lennon, who said: “It’s up to Ben, but we feel he could be the next one to make that next step.

“He has good attributes, good height and is well balanced in both feet. Again, like all of them physically he needs to develop a bit. They have youth on their side so that will come, but we are very pleased with their football intelligence.”

Shaw, of course, has been the one youngster who has caught the eye, scoring on his debut in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic and then repeating the feat as Hibs held the Hoops to a 2-2 draw at Easter Road.

Lennon is delighted not only with his progress, but that of the others. He said: “There’s a structure there for young players and Oli has taken that path. We hope for more of the same in the second half of the season.

“It’s great, really healthy and important for a club like Hibs. We also have one or two bubbling away that might come through next season. To have three at that level at the moment is very good.

“We are delighted with the progress of Oli, Ryan and Fraser, but Ben has done well and he’s one we feel we can progress.

“Kevin has been around for a while. Again, he is still a bit raw but he has good attributes for a goalkeeper, good size, good shot-stopper, good personality.

“I am delighted with the addition of them to the squad.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661924.1516029732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661924.1516029732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ben Stirling","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ben Stirling","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661924.1516029732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/jason-cummings-completes-loan-move-to-rangers-1-4662210","id":"1.4662210","articleHeadline": "Jason Cummings completes loan move to Rangers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516048286000 ,"articleLead": "

Rangers have completed the loan signing of Jason Cummings from Nottingham Forest, with Norwich City defender Russell Martin expected to agree a similar deal tomorrow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662209.1516048282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings in action for Nottingham Forest in a Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The summer signing from Hibs will spend the rest of the season at Ibrox after scoring just four goals in 18 appearances for Forest, and could join on a permanent basis in the summer.

Signed by former Rangers manager Mark Warburton, Cummings failed to hold down a regular starting berth at the City Ground and was understood to have held talks with Warburton’s successor Aitor Karanka last week.

The 22-year-old underwent a medical in Glasgow at the weekend before finalising his move to Rangers on Monday, and is the fourth player to join the Gers this month after Sean Goss and Jamie Murphy arrived on loan and Declan John signed a permanent deal.

Cummings told RangersTV: “I’m absolutely delighted to come to such a massive club. Once I knew they were interested, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to sign for them.

“It’s such a massive club and it’s a privilege to be here. I can’t wait to get out there at Ibrox and wear the blue.

“I can’t wait to get started now. I asked my agent to try and sort something out, and when I heard Rangers were interested it was just something I couldn’t decline.

“I have always enjoyed playing against Rangers, and hopefully I can enjoy playing on the other side this time.”

Scotland international Russell Martin could become Graeme Murty’s fifth signing of the January transfer window, wth the Norwich defender expected to put pen to paper on a loan deal later this week.

Martin hasn’t featured for the Canaries this season, and knows Murty well from the Rangers manager’s time as a youth coach at Carrow Road.

Terms have reportedly been agreed between the two clubs and Martin will likely undergo a medical in Glasgow in the next 24 hours.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662209.1516048282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662209.1516048282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jason Cummings in action for Nottingham Forest in a Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings in action for Nottingham Forest in a Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662209.1516048282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/jamie-maclaren-what-brisbane-roar-fans-say-about-the-new-hibs-striker-1-4662191","id":"1.4662191","articleHeadline": "Jamie Maclaren: What Brisbane Roar fans say about the new Hibs striker","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516045293000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Maclaren is yet to kick a competitive ball for Hibs but the striker is targeting a place in Australia’s 2018 World Cup squad. Patrick McPartlin spoke to fans of Brisbane Roar to get their take on the loan signing from SV Darmstadt.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662190.1516045287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren is aiming to recapture his Brisbane Roar form for Hibs, as he eyes a place in Australia's 2018 World Cup squad. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Hibs confirm loan signing of Darmstadt striker Jamie Maclaren

Former team-mate Steven McGarry described him as ‘quick, dynamic and [with] a real eye for goal... a penalty-box player’ while fellow Australia international Ryan McGowan added: “He runs in behind well, clever link-up play... given service would imagine he will score goals.’

Hibs fans are understandably excited about the arrival of Maclaren, especially with his first match for the Easter Road side likely to be a Scottish Cup derby against Hearts - who were also keen on the forward.

The Melbourne native scored 43 goals in 61 appearances for the Roar and picked up the Young Footballer of the Year award - for the second consecutive year - before agreeing a three-year deal with SV Darmstadt 98 in Germany’s second tier. However, Maclaren struggled for game time at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor and said following his arrival at Hibs that he was targeting a place in Australia’s 2018 World Cup squad.

Despite his struggles in Germany, Maclaren was nevertheless ranked at number 31 in Goal.com’s Top 50 Australian players of 2017. At the tail end of 2016 his form saw him linked with English Premier League side Stoke City, even if Roar boss John Aloisi played down the speculation.

It would be all too easy to brand Maclaren a ‘replacement for Jason Cummings’, but despite the strikers at Hibs’ disposal - the mercurial Anthony Stokes, leading scorer Simon Murray and the emerging talent of Oli Shaw - even the most ardent of fans would agree that the side has been missing a good old fashioned poacher up top.

READ MORE - Jamie Maclaren is just what Hibs need, says former team-mate

Roar fan Scott Owen, of the Brisbane Football Review, reckons Maclaren is exactly the sort of player Hibs need in attack.

“The majority of Jamie’s goals for Brisbane came from close range. In the 18-yard box he’s got the positional sense to get himself into good goalscoring positions.

“As a finisher, he’s equally adept with both feet and scored an equal number of goals from either side, making him an unpredictable quantity for oppoisition teams in the A-League.”

Hibs have, at times, struggled to put teams away this season but the arrival of Maclaren should give them an extra dimension up front. The 24-year-old was viewed as the leading Australian goalscorer in the country’s top flight prior to joining Darmstadt, after the striker shared the Golden Boot with Kosovan forward Besart Berisha. The pair scored 19 goals apiece.

A confident penalty-taker, Maclaren’s movement off the ball contributed greatly to Brisbane’s third-place finish, qualification to the AFC Champions League second preliminary round and their run to the A-League semi-finals, where they were edged out by Melbourne Victory.

Owen continues: “Jamie offers great movement and makes intelligent runs in behind the opposition defences, making him an effective weapon for Brisbane to hit teams on the counter attack or quickly in transition.

“During his time at Brisbane, the team was usually set up to enable him to make the most of this skill and a lot of goals scored by The Roar were as a result of Maclaren’s ability to stretch teams.”

Are there any areas of Maclaren’s game that he needs to work on?

“The biggest weakness in Jamie’s game during his time at Brisbane was his ability to score goals with his head,” says Owen.

“He scored just one headed goal in his two seasons with the Roar and it’s probably the part of his game which can be improved the most.”

READ MORE - Big interview: Jamie Maclaren on Hibs, Hearts, World Cup and his Darmstadt hell

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662190.1516045287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662190.1516045287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Maclaren is aiming to recapture his Brisbane Roar form for Hibs, as he eyes a place in Australia's 2018 World Cup squad. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren is aiming to recapture his Brisbane Roar form for Hibs, as he eyes a place in Australia's 2018 World Cup squad. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662190.1516045287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/our-region/edinburgh/anthony-stokes-given-penalty-points-after-driving-without-a-licence-1-4661768","id":"1.4661768","articleHeadline": "Anthony Stokes given penalty points after driving without a licence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516033608000 ,"articleLead": "

HIBS player Anthony Stokes collected an unwanted three points after he pled guilty to driving without a licence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661767.1516033603!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes collected 3 driving points in court. Picture; JP"} ,"articleBody": "

The ex Celtic striker admitted his guilt but wasn’t at Glasgow’s Justice of the Peace Court today - less than a week after being banished from training for breaking a curfew during a team trip to Portugal.

Stokes - who only has a provisional licence - illegally drove on Cumbernauld Road in the east of the city.

He was driving a Mitsubishi Shogun 4x4 on January 28, 2016 when stopped by police.

READ MORE: Hibs punish trio for breaking curfew on winter training camp

The 29 year-old was represented at court yesterday on the day he was due to stand trial.

Defence lawyer Michael Gallen said Stokes pled guilty to driving without a licence but not guilty to driving without insurance, which prosecutors accepted.

Stokes was given three points on his licence and a £160 fine reduced from £175.

Mr Gallen said: “He is originally from the Republic of Ireland, he holds a licence issued by the driving authority in Ireland.

“At the time of this particular offence his misunderstanding was that he was covered in the UK by virtue of that licence.”

Last week, Stokes and team mates Danny Swanson and Martin Boyle were ordered to train separately from the rest of the group for the last three days of their trip to the Algarve in Portugal.

It’s understood the three players failed to check in on time following a squad meal out last Tuesday evening.

In January 2016 he was loaned to Hibernian until the end of the season and signed a two-year contract with them in August.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ASHLIE MCANALLY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661767.1516033603!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661767.1516033603!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anthony Stokes collected 3 driving points in court. Picture; JP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes collected 3 driving points in court. Picture; JP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661767.1516033603!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/ben-stirling-makes-most-of-surprise-call-to-hibs-trip-1-4661227","id":"1.4661227","articleHeadline": "Ben Stirling makes most of surprise call to Hibs trip","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515997802000 ,"articleLead": "

Up until a few days ago, Ben Stirling was looking at a Saturday night spent on the Cowdenbeath team bus heading back south from the League Two clash with Elgin City.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661225.1515951429!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs squad train on their winter break in the Algarve"} ,"articleBody": "

Instead the Hibs youngster found himself jetting home from the Easter Road outfit’s winter training camp in Portugal, a surprise call-up to Neil Lennon’s squad which spent a week in the Algarve.

Having been farmed out to the Blue Brazil on a development loan, the 19-year-old had his time at Central Park cut short, paving the way for him to join fellow teenagers Oli Shaw, Ryan Porteous, Fraser Murray and Kevin Dabrowski in heading for a bit of sunshine.

“It was a bit of a shock,” he confessed. “George [Craig, Hibs head of football operations] phoned me on Wednesday and I was delighted. I didn’t have a clue I’d be going but I couldn’t wait.”

As he boarded the flight bound for Faro, Stirling was only too aware of how much his journey home would differ to the day he’d have spent had he remained with Cowdenbeath, having made the trip to Borough Briggs for his very first appearance for the Fife side.

He said: “We reported about eight in the morning, got there around 12.30pm for our pre-match meal, played the game and were back at ten at night. It was a very long day.

“So it was a bit different to find myself on a plane heading for home instead. At least I was back before ten!”

No doubt Stirling spent a bit of those three hours in the air contemplating the previous few days, not least being handed his shirt complete with his squad number, 45, and, for the first time, with his name on the back as Lennon’s players played out a hastily arranged match against Dutch side Excelsior Rotterdam who were based nearby.

The midfielder said: “At Cowdenbeath and Berwick, where I was on loan last season, the shirts were numbered one to 11, so it was a special moment to be given a jersey with both a squad number and my name on the back.

“Playing against Excelsior was a real step up but I feel I handled it well. It was another challenge. I got the full 90 minutes and I really enjoyed it. I played centre mid first half then left-back in the second.”

Stirling got a further piece of the action, playing for the final 25 minutes as he replaced Darren McGregor as Hibs took on another Dutch side, Willem II on Friday. And while, like everyone else in the Hibs camp, he was disappointed to have lost 3-1 despite taking the lead through Simon Murray early in the second half, it was an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

He said: “Dutch football has a different style, they like to get the ball down and play. That’s how I like to play.”

However, it was being around Lennon’s squad on an extended basis which Stirling really enjoyed. He said: “I’ve trained with the first team squad a few times. The first couple of sessions you hold back, but the gaffer is good telling you to relax and enjoy it and then you feel you are part of it.

“You watch players in your position, watch what they do learn off that and try to mirror what they do in training.

“They are a great bunch of lads who make you feel welcome and don’t leave you out. Being away for a week like that gives you a chance to bond with them, to hear what they have to say about different things.”

And although his time with Cowdenbeath ended on a disappointing note – his last game for them was at the end of October – Stirling believes both his spell in Fife and at Berwick can play a pivotal role in his push for a first-team place at Easter Road.

He said: “It’s very much different to the development football you are playing which is not really about the result, whereas with Cowdenbeath the win comes first and then the style. But it’s good, again different ways of playing and different experiences.”

Stirling scored in his second game for Cowdenbeath, his strike giving them the three points against Edinburgh City and what remains their only league win of the season, their defeat by Elgin at the weekend making it 19 games without a victory, a record which leaves them firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.

He said: “It was strange, at the start I was flying but then they started dropping down the league and it wasn’t working out for me. The last game I started was Berwick at the end of October and that was it.

“The boss, Billy Brown, left then the new manager [Gary Bollan] came in. It was the typical football story, that change of manager no matter what level you are playing at. If they like you they like you, if they don’t they don’t

“Billy was playing me in central midfield, my favourite position. But then there was a lot of games from the end of November and beginning of December so I didn’t really get a chance to show what I can do. As a result Eddie [May Hibs head of academy coaching] and George cut it short. Then, fortunately I got the call to go to Portugal and I hope I haven’t done myself any harm.

“Oli and Co are the standard bearers. I’m a wee bit jealous, but it just makes you want to work harder to get about the first team and hopefully it won’t be too long until that happens.

Now Stirling has his sights set on forcing his way into Lennon’s thoughts just as Shaw, Porteous and Fraser Murray have done.

Agreeing it is great to see youngsters coming through – arch-rivals Hearts getting plenty of plaudits at present for giving the likes of Harry Cochrane, Jamie Brandon and Anthony McDonald an opportunity – Stirling believes Hibs, who sit top of the SPFL development league, have just as good youth players, if not 

However, as he pointed out, it’s about getting that chance and taking the opportunity, goalkeeper Dabrowski up against Israeli internationalist Ofir Marciano and Scott Bain and, when fit again, Ross Laidlaw, while hot-shot Shaw has had to force his way in alongside Anthony Stokes and Simon Murray while the arrival of Australian striker Jamie Maclaren will add further competition.

And in his own area, both he and Fraser Murray face the toughest test of all as they seek to get their noses in front of Scotland internationalist John McGinn, Dylan McGeouch and Marvin Bartley.

Stirling added: “Look at the first-team squad. It’s very strong and in midfield it’s going to be hard to put them out of the team, but you have to keep working hard, looking for that opening and then 
taking it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661225.1515951429!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661225.1515951429!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Hibs squad train on their winter break in the Algarve","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs squad train on their winter break in the Algarve","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661225.1515951429!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661226.1515951431!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661226.1515951431!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ben Stirling","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ben Stirling","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661226.1515951431!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-punish-trio-for-breaking-curfew-on-winter-training-camp-1-4661176","id":"1.4661176","articleHeadline": "Hibs punish trio for breaking curfew on winter training camp","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515969000000 ,"articleLead": "

Three Hibs first-team players have been punished for a breach of discipline during the Easter Road outfit’s winter training camp in the Algarve,

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661174.1515942136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes, left, and Martin Boyle, right, have been disciplined by Hibs. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Striker Anthony Stokes, midfielder Danny Swanson and winger Martin Boyle all broke a curfew at the squad’s luxury base near Portimao.

It is understood that while the breach wasn’t serious, it was enough for the trio to be banished to train by themselves for the remainder of the trip. They also missed the friendly match against Dutch side Willem II which wrapped up the week-long stay in Portugal, although all three were said to have been nursing injuries in any case.

Individually they were summoned to a showdown meeting with boss Neil Lennon and George Craig, Hibs’ head of football operations, before the travelling party left for home and were dealt with “in line with the club’s disciplinary procedures” – although the details of how each was dealt with remain private.

However, it is understood a line has now been drawn under the affair, with all three due to rejoin their team-mates at the club’s East Mains training centre on Monday to begin preparing for Sunday’s Scottish Cup derby against Hearts at Tynecastle.

It is the second time in a matter of months that Republic of Ireland internationalist Stokes has fallen foul of Lennon, ordered off the training ground in late November after a row and left out of the side which faced Hamilton the following day.

At the time Lennon – who was also Stokes manager at Celtic – insisted it was “an isolated incident”, saying: “We had a difference of opinion but it’s been dealt with. I was not going to tolerate it and he understands that.

“He did not need to apologise. He just has to understand there are certain codes of conduct and a level of discipline you cannot cross with me.

“He knows that, it’s done now. He should have known that having worked with me before. He accepted he was in the wrong and he is getting on with it now.”

However, Stokes has since insisted that earlier incident was no more than “a misunderstanding”, adding: “To be honest, in my opinion it was nothing.

“The gaffer has spoken about it. I am not going to go into detail but as far as I am concerned, I did nothing wrong.”

Stokes also claimed Lennon was not one for holding grudges, that he could quickly move on and not dwell on things, but he will surely be wary of testing his manager’s patience again any time soon.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661174.1515942136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661174.1515942136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anthony Stokes, left, and Martin Boyle, right, have been disciplined by Hibs. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anthony Stokes, left, and Martin Boyle, right, have been disciplined by Hibs. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661174.1515942136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661175.1515942138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661175.1515942138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Swanson, right, pictured alongside Stokes, was also involved in the incident. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Swanson, right, pictured alongside Stokes, was also involved in the incident. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661175.1515942138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/rangers-to-sign-jason-cummings-as-part-of-triple-swoop-1-4661274","id":"1.4661274","articleHeadline": "Rangers to sign Jason Cummings as part of triple swoop","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515954665000 ,"articleLead": "

Rangers are poised to make a triple signing swoop this week as Graeme Murty puts his own mark on the squad for a serious challenge in the second half of the season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661273.1515954214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings is poised for a switch to Rangers. Picture: SNS/Rob Casey"} ,"articleBody": "

• READ MORE: Kyle Lafferty gets into Twitter spat with TV presenter David Tanner

The Light Blues are set to bring in Jason Cummings and Russell Martin on loan and will also make a firm offer for Hamilton’s Greg Docherty.

It is a sign of intent from Murty who has already secured Jamie Murphy from Brighton on a loan to permanent transfer deal as well as midfielder Sean Goss, who has joined on loan from Queen’s Park Rangers.

Former Hibs star Cummings has fallen out of the plans at Nottingham Forest since the arrival of Aitor Karanka, who replaced former Rangers boss Mark Warburton who was sacked on December 31 after just nine months in charge.

Murty believes Cummings can supply fresh firepower to the Rangers frontline where Alfredo Morelos has been burdened with getting the goals, especially as Kenny Miller is injured.

He knows Scotland star Martin well from his days as a youth coach at Norwich City and feels the 32-year-old’s experience could be vital when the action resumes.

• READ MORE: Corinthians 2 - 4 Rangers: Alfredo Morelos deadly against Brazilians

And dynamic midfielder Docherty is someone he feels can offer Rangers some drive in that area and will increase his options.

Cummings has only managed one goal for Forest this season, starting just seven Championship games.

But he blasted 23 for Hibs last season, proving he has what it takes at Premiership level and Murty is hoping he can replicate that form.

The arrival of Martin will increase speculation that Bruno Alves will seek to cut his ties with Rangers to ensure a slot in Portugal’s squad for the 2018 World Cup.

Alves has been in Portugal rehabilitating from a calf injury and is due to return to the Rangers Training Centre tomorrow.

• READ MORE: Rangers linked with Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield

Martin has also suffered from a lack of game time at Carrow Road and has not featured since a 4-0 defeat by Millwall back in August.

The Norwich club captain can also play right back, offering competition to James Tavernier who has been attracting interest from English Championship sides.

Rangers returned from their Florida Cup trip and training camp yesterday and will begin their preparations tomorrow for Sunday’s William Scottish Cup tie at Fraserburgh.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lindsay Herron"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661273.1515954214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661273.1515954214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jason Cummings is poised for a switch to Rangers. Picture: SNS/Rob Casey","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings is poised for a switch to Rangers. Picture: SNS/Rob Casey","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661273.1515954214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1506970123506"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-offer-midfielder-dylan-mcgeouch-a-new-three-year-deal-1-4661035","id":"1.4661035","articleHeadline": "Hibs offer midfielder Dylan McGeouch a new three-year deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515928234000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has confirmed that the club has offered Dylan McGeouch a new three-year deal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661034.1515949040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dylan McGeouch is out of contract at the end of the season. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

he former Celitc midfielder is out of contract in the summer and Lennon is keen to tie down the 24-year-old, who has established himself as one of the key players in the Hibees squad.

“It is not in writing yet, but is verbally there,” said Lennon.

“The ball is firmly in Dylan’s court and he is taking a bit of time to think about things — I’ll be pushing him a little more as the weeks go on.

“He is an important player, he is having a fantastic season and we are seeing the best of him. It’s something we will look to pursue very quickly. It is very high up on our list of priorities.

“It’s his prerogative to think things over and he hasn’t said no. He’s in a good place at the moment and we don’t want to upset that. But we want to get him tied down to a longer-term contract if we can.

“We’ll speak to him and his representative as soon as possible.

“He is in a position where he can go — but I think he owes a bit to the club as well.

“I would like more goals from him because he has got that in his game.

“Aside from that, his all-round game is superb, his fitness levels, his reading of the game, his passing, his drive and robustness. We are seeing the best of him now.”

Lennon also admitted that he is an admirer of Barnsley’s 21-year-old midfielder Stevie Mallan, who moved to Yorkshire from St Mirren last year but has found game-time limited. The player has been linked with a move to Hibs this transfer window.

“We are interested in a lot of players,” added Lennon. “We like him, we liked him at St Mirren, and if there’s a possibility there then it’s something we might look at.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PETER WALES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4661034.1515949040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4661034.1515949040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dylan McGeouch is out of contract at the end of the season. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dylan McGeouch is out of contract at the end of the season. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4661034.1515949040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/stokes-hibs-cup-win-surpassed-all-i-achieved-at-celtic-1-4660835","id":"1.4660835","articleHeadline": "Stokes: Hibs cup win surpassed all I achieved at Celtic","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515909600000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s fair to say Anthony Stokes has been round the block a few times, leading the nomadic life of a professional football player but inevitably it seems, he always winds his way back to Easter Road.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660834.1515880057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "With 11 goals already this season, Anthony Stokes is maintaining the scoring form that has earned him hero status at Hibs. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

His return to the green and white of Hibs last summer signalled the start of his third spell with the Edinburgh club, a decision made in the face of opportunities to take up far more lucrative offers from as far afield as India and China.

There was, of course, a familiarity to be had closer to home, not only the comfort of bedding in again at a club where he will forever be regarded as a legend thanks to his two goals in that historic Scottish Cup triumph, but the presence of Neil Lennon, his manager for much of a medal-laden spell with his boyhood favourites, Celtic.

However, as far as Stokes was concerned, it represented a chance to simply enjoy his football again having fallen out of favour in Glasgow under Lennon’s successor Ronny Deila before switching to Blackburn when the Norwegian was replaced by Brendan Rodgers, who made it clear the Dublin-born player wouldn’t feature in his plans.

The move to Lancashire, though, proved such a disaster his contract was terminated, leaving Lennon to persuade him of the merits of rejoining a club which was reacquainting itself with Premiership football following a three-year exile in the Championship.

Declaring himself settled at last to the extent he wouldn’t rule out the notion of ending his career at Hibs, the 29-year-old said: “I could have gone to different clubs for more money but I wanted to come back because I know the environment, all the players and I am settled in Scotland.

“I wanted to come back. It was more for the personal side to come back to Edinburgh, be happy, get back playing my football. I’ve been in and out pretty much since Ronny Deila came in, I went to Blackburn, it didn’t work out and I just wanted to get back enjoying my football.”

While he is doing so, Stokes admitted he wasn’t entirely happy with how he had performed so far this season even if Hibs have taken many by surprise, going into their winter break training camp on the Algarve sitting in fourth place.

He said: “I don’t think I’ve set the world alight. I have always said look at my stats, 20 [goals] is a minimum for a season and I already have 11, so I am reasonably happy. But I think I should have more to be perfectly honest.

“It’s been a bit of a mixed season. There are games where I have played really well and not scored, others where I have not been too happy with my performance but nicked a goal here and there. Hopefully I can push on in the second half of the season.”

In a chequered career which has also taken him to Arsenal, Falkirk, Sunderland and a number of points in between, Stokes insisted he has always been willing to roll with the punches, saying: “It’s difficult, but sometimes things happen for a reason. It was not ideal for Hibs not being promoted but capping it off by winning the Scottish Cup was.

“I went to Blackburn, it didn’t work out for a couple of reasons but that’s football, You just have to pick yourself back up and get on with it. I have been in this situation before.

“It was similar to the first time I signed for Hibs. I’d gone to Sunderland, done reasonably well and I was out of the team for a year, maybe a year and a half, but I got my career back on track and moved on from there.”

Although it is obvious Lennon and Stokes have a healthy mutual respect, they have had their moments, a training ground spat a few weeks ago ending with the player being ordered home and dropped for a trip to Hamilton.

Stokes, however, made light of the incident, revealing the history between the pair goes back to the days when he began making a name for himself while on loan at Falkirk, one of his first encounters with Lennon ending with the Celtic midfielder being sent off.

“To be honest, in my opinion that was nothing,” he claimed of their most recent falling out. “The gaffer has spoken about it. I’m not going to go into detail, but as far as I am concerned I didn’t do anything wrong, it was a misunderstanding. The gaffer has his own way and like any manager he’s not going to change his mind.

“He’s the type of person who will have it out with you and then it’s done, and people respect that. I think I am a bit like that myself. I can have an argument but then you move on, don’t dwell on it.

“The gaffer is a bit like that but he is the manager and you have to respect every decision he makes. He makes the call and you have to get on 
with it.”

Lennon has claimed to have mellowed since quitting the pressurised life of being Celtic boss, but Stokes insisted if that’s the case then it hasn’t changed his approach to management.

“He sets high expectations for himself and everyone else,” he said. “ I think he looks at every player performing at his best and if you are not there he’s going to tell you although I think he understands you can’t play to your maximum every week.

“You’d have to ask him, but I’d imagine it’s a different job coming from Celtic where you are expected to win every week to a team newly promoted from the Championship. We have done reasonably well but his expectations are so high he probably wants to see us finishing third or second.

“He was at Leicester, a team that did reasonably well, won cups there, went to Celtic and won everything in sight, played in big games in Europe. It’s just a mentality as a player he’s brought through as a manager.

“It’s different, but I think the mentality has to be the same. We go out and play Celtic or Rangers, and with the squad we have we feel we can beat anyone on our day.

“The standards are very high, we are sitting fourth in the league and could be a place or two up if we’d seen games out a bit better. There were games we let get away from us. There are plenty of examples, 2-0 up against Motherwell with 20, 25 minutes left and we end up drawing.

“Hopefully that’s something we can rectify in the second half of the season.”

Hibs, of course, will swing back into action with a visit to Tynecastle to face arch-rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup for the third season in succession, club captain David Gray having already gone on record to say he sees no reason why they can’t replicate that memorable May day of 2016 – one which, Stokes revealed, more than matched anything he had achieved at Celtic.

He said: “Celtic are going to win the title – they have the strongest squad and the best players in the league – so the cup has to be the target for the rest of us. In the past few years Hibs have had great runs in the cups and I think this year will be no different. We’ll be striving to win the Scottish Cup again.

“Winning the cup with Hibs probably surpassed everything I achieved with Celtic. The background to it all with the club having waited so long and the scenes afterwards when you saw what it meant to the fans.

“The open top bus parade was unbelievable, something I could never do in Glasgow and something I will never forget, and it was definitely the highlight of my career above all else.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660834.1515880057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660834.1515880057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "With 11 goals already this season, Anthony Stokes is maintaining the scoring form that has earned him hero status at Hibs. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "With 11 goals already this season, Anthony Stokes is maintaining the scoring form that has earned him hero status at Hibs. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660834.1515880057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibee-history-shiels-nets-a-hat-trick-to-kick-off-mixu-s-reign-1-4659473","id":"1.4659473","articleHeadline": "Hibee History: Shiels nets a hat-trick to kick off Mixu’s reign","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515824880000 ,"articleLead": "

Dean Shiels netted a hat-trick to give new Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen a winning start in the Scottish Cup.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659472.1515708618!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dean Shiels scores for Hibs"} ,"articleBody": "

After five minutes, Shiels bamboozled Ross Tokely with some fancy footwork before slamming home from 14 yards.

There was more good work from Shiels as he nutmegged Phil McGuire and drill the ball under Michael Fraser on 53 minutes.

Shiels tucked in his third when a shot from Filpe Morais came off the post but the game ended on an ugly note with McGuire and Morais sent off.

Paatelainen selected an attacking line-up for his first match in charge and was rewarded with an excellent display, full of crisp passing and invention.

“It was fantastic,” said the Finn. “I wanted to see a hungry performance from the players with plenty of movement. I named players that could go forward and score, and it worked.

“I would have been proud of the goals that Dean scored. I have seen him play many times before I came here.

“He has not been playing too much recently but we gave him a chance. He has the ability to finish and go past players.”

Injuries to David Murphy and Lewis Stevenson meant a debut for Hibs left-back Paul Hanlon and the youngster did not have much to do in the hour he played as the visitors struggled to get forward.

After a bright start from Inverness, Hibs took control of the game after Shiels opened the scoring with a fine run and shot.

The lively Merouane Zemmama then had two shots saved by Michael Fraser and fellow Moroccan Abdessalam Benjelloun curled an effort just wide.

Inverness had a chance to level after Roy McBain’s cross fell at the feet of Marius Niculae but the Romanian’s stab at the ball from close range was gathered by Yves Ma-Kalambay.

Shiels caught the visitors out again early in the second half when he tricked his way past McGuire and hit the back of the net.

Morais’ fizzed a low effort just wide before Niculae’s deflected shot was saved by Ma-Kalambay.

Hibs substitute Mickael Antoine-Curier somehow headed over an empty goal from a few yards out.

But the home team were not be denied and, with seven minutes left, Shiels got his hat-trick after picking up the rebound to Morais’ shot which struck the post.

The tie ended with McGuire and Morais both picking up their second yellow cards for squaring up to each other off the ball.

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, McCann, Hogg, Jones, Hanlon (McCormack 62), Morais, Kerr, Beuzelin, Shiels, Zemmama (O’Brien 90), Benjelloun (Antoine-Curier 74). Subs Not Used: McNeil, Chisholm

Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, McGuire, Munro, Hastings, Cowie (Proctor 61), Black (McDonald 85), Duncan, McBain, Bayne (Wyness 62), Niculae. Subs Not Used: Malkowski, Vigurs

Ref: S Conroy

Att: 12,578

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hibs 3, Inverness CT 0. Scottish Cup R 4. January 12, 2008"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659472.1515708618!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659472.1515708618!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dean Shiels scores for Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dean Shiels scores for Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659472.1515708618!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/david-gray-injury-may-force-hibs-to-target-new-right-back-1-4660214","id":"1.4660214","articleHeadline": "David Gray injury may force Hibs to target new right-back","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515796247000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has revealed he may have to make a move into the transfer market after skipper David Gray suffered what’s feared to be a season-ending injury.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660213.1515789578!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A concerned Neil Lennon looks on as David Gray is helped off against Willem II"} ,"articleBody": "

Gray fell to the ground clutching his Achilles only seven minutes into a friendly match against Dutch side Willem II as the Easter Road outfit brought their week-long winter training camp in the Algarve to an end.

There was immediate concern for the 29-year-old, who was in obvious distress as he was helped to the dressing-room, emerging afterwards with a protective boot on his foot with Lennon admitting he feared the worst. Lennon said the situation was “heartbreaking” for Gray, who had appeared to be finally over the niggling knee problem which had restricted him to just 12 appearances this season.

Lennon said: “I think it is a bad one. He felt something pop in his Achilles and that’s always a really bad sign. It could be devastating for us and him so we will have to wait and see what the prognosis is when we get back. It’s heartbreaking, it’s one of those innocuous things.

“I remember Steven Mouyokolo at Celtic. He was just jogging and the next thing we hear a ‘pop’ and he basically couldn’t lift his foot off the floor. I hope it’s not going to be as bad as that but I think it is pretty serious, a real blow. David will be in boot to keep it stable for a couple of days. We don’t really know if it is a tear or a rupture.

“I don’t think there’s much we can really do until we get him home and get him assessed. He may need surgery on it and, if that is the case, he’ll probably be out for the season.”

Gray’s injury leaves Lennon again short of cover at right-back, central defender Efe Ambrose forced to operate out of position with Steven Whittaker nursing a pelvic problem which has troubled him for much of the season.

Whittaker travelled with his team-mates to Portugal but played no part in either of the two games they played and, while he has the option to again play Ambrose in that position, Lennon admitted it “wasn’t ideal”.

Asked if he might have to consider making a move for a new player, Lennon replied: “Possibly. Steven is struggling with his pelvis. I’ve been going with Efe for the last few games – he does a good job but it’s not ideal.”

Ambrose didn’t go to Portugal, Lennon explaining a visa problem had prevented the Nigerian internationalist from doing so but revealed the former Celtic player had been training with the club’s development squad at East Mains throughout the week. He said: “Efe is the least of my worries in terms of fitness. He could miss six months and come back in to training. It’s not a big issue.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660213.1515789578!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660213.1515789578!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A concerned Neil Lennon looks on as David Gray is helped off against Willem II","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A concerned Neil Lennon looks on as David Gray is helped off against Willem II","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660213.1515789578!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/simon-murray-i-want-to-stay-and-fight-for-my-place-at-hibs-1-4660216","id":"1.4660216","articleHeadline": "Simon Murray: I want to stay and fight for my place at Hibs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515796205000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs striker Simon Murray is not interested in making a shock move to Turkey, adamant he wants to stay and fight for his place at Easter Road.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660215.1515783857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Simon Murray celebrates after opening the scoring against Willem II"} ,"articleBody": "

Turkish top-flight club Elazigspor had a six-figure bid for the flame-haired hitman turned down by the Capital club earlier this week.

But while admitting it was something of a compliment, Murray, who is Hibs’ leading scorer having claimed 14 goals this season, has no interest in leaving a club he only joined last summer.

He said: “The gaffer pulled me into his office the other day and told me there had been an offer put in for me from a club in Turkey.

“It was a bit random but I am fully committed to Hibs. I don’t want to leave this club. It’s not really something I have been thinking about. I spoke to the manager and told him I wanted to stay and prove I could do the job here.

“The gaffer says it’s something I should take as a compliment but it is what it is. Teams look from all over and it’s nice to be noticed but I spoke with the manager and told him I want to stay here at Hibs and prove I can do the job.”.

It was, though, Murray admitted, a far cry from his days – not so long ago – when he was playing Junior football on Tayside.

“From Tayport to Turkey,” he joked. “That would be some journey but it is what it is. I am happy to be a Hibs player. I’m happy to be here. Why would I not be?”

In staying put, Murray is well aware he faces even greater competition for a place in Neil Lennon’s side, Australian internationalist Jamie Maclaren having arrived during this transfer window while teenager Oli Shaw has begun pushing for a regular starting 
place in the past couple of months.

Anthony Stokes has also hit double figures this season but the emergence of Shaw, a prolific scorer for the Hibs development squad, has pushed Murray down Lennon’s pecking order but the 25-year-old gave his manager a timely reminder of his potency in front of goal by putting Hibs ahead as they rounded up their week training in the Algarve with a match against Dutch side Willem II.

What was probably just as pleasing for him was the fact it was a trademark strike, being in the right place to turn home John McGinn’s volleyed cross from a glorious Dylan McGeouch ball which had spread-eagled the Dutch defence.

The former Dundee United player said: “You can’t go through a whole season on form. As a striker, that’s very hard. You get hot spells and cold spells. You need competition to push you – and you push them in return. Jamie Maclaren has arrived at the club and he’s scored a lot of goals in his career and he is also an international player for Australia.

“Young Oli came on in the cup semi-final against Celtic and he scored a goal. Any time he has been called upon he has done well for the team.

“I’ve been through a patch of scoring then not scoring and scoring again. That’s football. You just make sure you keep your head down, work hard and ensure you don’t get distracted.

“Hopefully, the competition pushes me on in my fight for the starting place – and that I am starting the next game against Hearts.”

And that, insisted Murray, was more important than the outcome of yesterday’s game, Hibs ultimately beaten 3-1 as the side from Tilburg scored three times in ten minutes despite, in Lennon’s estimation, Hibs having been the better team for the first hour of the game.

The Hibs boss said: “I was pleased, really pleased. Up until the substitutions we were the better team. I needed to make the changes to give everyone a run out.”

And, insisted Murray, there were mitigating factors at play. He said: “We’ve had a hard week in training after having five days off after the Kilmarnock game and were perhaps a bit rusty. It was good to get a goal but I should have scored a couple in the first half.

“The gaffer was not happy with the result. Nobody was because you never like losing but the performance was good, especially in the first half. It was a good run-out for us.

“The first few days over here in Portugal were really tough, double sessions every day so the boys, while looking fit, were perhaps a bit leggy. It’s been a hard week but we have a massive game coming up next Sunday as everyone knows.”

That game, of course, is the trip to face arch-rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup for the third season in succession, Lennon’s side looking to protect a record in which they are unbeaten in their past nine matches against the Jambos.

Although he only made a late appearance from the bench the last time the two clashed – a no-scoring draw in Gorgie – Murray has nothing but happy memories of his first Edinburgh derby, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal after only three minutes.

He said: “That was definitely the highlight of my season. It was great to score a goal that early and for it to turn out to be the winner.

“The whole squad is buzzing for the derby and hopefully we can continue our good unbeaten run in the fixture.

“We could hear the Hibs fans singing about ten-in-a-row today. It’s been a good trip to Portugal for them and they are all buzzing for the derby too. Hopefully we can keep the smiles on their faces.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660215.1515783857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660215.1515783857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Simon Murray celebrates after opening the scoring against Willem II","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Simon Murray celebrates after opening the scoring against Willem II","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660215.1515783857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-skipper-david-gray-could-be-out-for-season-1-4660038","id":"1.4660038","articleHeadline": "Hibs skipper David Gray could be out for season","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515772609000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs boss Neil Lennon has admitted David Gray’s season could be over after the Easter Road skipper picked up a serious Achilles injury during the Capital club’s friendly with Dutch side Willem II.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660037.1515772820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray had to be helped from the field"} ,"articleBody": "

The game at the end of Hibs winter training camp in the Algarve was only into its seventh minute when Gray fell to the floor clutching his left ankle with no-one near him.

Gray, who had talked only a few days ago of finally being over the niggling knee problem that has blighted his season, was in obvious distress as he was helped from the pitch, the 29-year-old later leaving the stadium following Hibs’ 3-1 defeat with his ankle in a protective boot.

A closer examination of the injury will take place after the squad return to Edinburgh tomorrow, but Lennon admitted he was fearing the worst.

He said: “I think it is a bad one. He felt something pop in his Achilles and that’s always a really bad sign. It could be devastating for us and him so we will have to wait and see what the prognosis is when we get back. It’s heartbreaking – it’s one of those innocuous things.

“I think it is pretty serious, a real blow. He will be in boot to keep it stable for a couple of days. We don’t really know if it is a tear or a rupture.

“I don’t think there’s much we can really do until we get him home and get him assessed, He may need surgery on it and if that is the case he’ll probably be out for the season.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660037.1515772820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660037.1515772820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Gray had to be helped from the field","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray had to be helped from the field","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660037.1515772820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-1-willem-ii-3-murray-scores-gray-off-injured-in-algarve-1-4659988","id":"1.4659988","articleHeadline": "Hibs 1, Willem II 3: Murray scores; Gray off injured in Algarve","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515770084000 ,"articleLead": "

Simon Murray put Hibs ahead as they rounded off their winter training camp in the Algarve with a match against Willem II but the side from the Dutch Eredevise ran out 3-1 winners.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659986.1515772656!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray suffered an ankle injury early in the match"} ,"articleBody": "

All the goals came in the second half, Murray netting three minutes after the interval but Willem II hit back with three goals in a ten-minute spell.

Mo El Hankouri struck twice before substitute Ismail Assaoui wrapped up their win 12 minutes from time with Ben Riensta having also hit the post for the club from Tilburg.

The 100 or so Hibs fans who had made the journey to Vila Real De Santo Antonio on the Portuguese/Spanish border were denied a first look at new signing Jamie Maclaren, the Australian striker one of a few missing through minor knocks, the others being Anthony Stokes, Danny Swanson, Martin Boyle, Steven Whittaker and Brandon Barker.

Hibs were dealt an early blow when skipper David Gray went down clutching his Achilles and was helped from the field in obvious distress, his place taken by teenager Ryan Porteous.

Willem II went closest to scoring in the opening 15 minutes, El Hankouri wriggling his way into the Hibs penalty area only to see his shot blocked by Darren McGregor.

Hibs hit back with John McGinn finding Murray in space inside the box but his shot sailed high over the bar.

Murray used his chest superbly to direct the ball into the path of Vykintas Slivka to allow the Lithuanian internationalist to deliver a cross into the danger area only for Oli Shaw to have wandered offside.

A perfectly-weighted through ball from Dylan McGeouch split the Willem II defence to leave Shaw one-on-one with Mattijs Branderhorst but the goalkeeper saved with his legs.

Hibs did have the ball in the net in the 38th minute, Shaw turning McGinn’s pass across the face of goal for Murray to slide home – but offside flag had already gone up against his teenage team-mate.

The Easter Road outfit were seeing plenty of the ball with the movement of Murray and Shaw causing the opposition more than a few problems, Willem II defender Darryl Lachman denying both in quick succession before the legs of Branderhorst again coming to his side’s rescue a minute before the interval as Murray tried his luck from a tight angle.

But it took Hibs just three minutes of the second half to get their noses in front, McGinn turning Dylan McGeouch’s superb cross-field pass back across the face of Branderhorst’s goal for Murray to slide home.

Fran Sol had a chance to equalise but Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano was more than equal to his effort before Murray attempted a curling shot which Branderhorst managed to hold high to his left.

But the Dutch side were level after 68 minutes when El Hankouri left Marciano with no chance with a smart finish into the bottom corner.

Riensta went close to putting the Dutch side ahead with 19 minutes remaining, his shot beating Marciano but cracking back off the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.

But El Hankouri took his opportunity, blasting the ball beyond Marciano to put Willem II ahead as Hibs found themselves falling out of the match.

A measure of how much on top the Dutch outfit had found themselves quickly followed as Azzaoui followed up to knock the ball home after Marciano had got down to get a strong left hand to Riensta’s powerful shot.

Hibs (4-4-2): Marciano; Gray (Porteous 7), McGregor (Stirling 65), Hanlon, Stevenson; Slivka, Bartley, McGeouch (F Murray 62), McGinn; Shaw, S Murray (Matulevicius 65). Substitutes not used: Bain, Dabrowski, Fontaine.

Willem II (4-2-3-1): Branderhorst; Dakerlui, Lachman, Heerkins, Wijnaldum; Tsimikas, Chirivella; Rienstra, Haye, El Hankouri; Sol. Substitutes: Wellenreuther, van der Lei, Ogenia, Crowley, Lieftink, van den Bogert, Urbanksi, Boagers, Kristinsson, Coulibaly, Croux, Assaoui.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659986.1515772656!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659986.1515772656!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Gray suffered an ankle injury early in the match","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray suffered an ankle injury early in the match","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659986.1515772656!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659987.1515772663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659987.1515772663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Simon Murray opens the scoring for Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Simon Murray opens the scoring for Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659987.1515772663!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/ofir-marciano-interview-i-am-my-own-biggest-critic-at-hibs-1-4659263","id":"1.4659263","articleHeadline": "Ofir Marciano interview: I am my own biggest critic at Hibs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515738618000 ,"articleLead": "

The Hibs players may have been cursing Scott Bain as the Dundee goalkeeper staged a one-man show of defiance to win a point but, at the other end of the Dens Park pitch, Ofir Marciano was applauding the performance of his opposite number which won him the man of the match award and the praise of both Hibs boss Neil Lennon and his own gaffer Neil McCann.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659259.1515702491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ofir Marciano pictured at Hibs' training camp in the Algarve. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Little did he think that day back in August that he and Bain would again find themselves rivals, but this time fighting over the Hibs No.1 spot, Bain snapped up by Lennon on loan after Marciano’s understudy Ross Laidlaw suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Bain surprisingly found himself surplus to requirements on Tayside, a bust-up with McCann that remains something of a mystery to outsiders resulting in the Edinburgh-born goalie frozen out and with no future with the Dark Blues.

Delighted to have found himself at Easter Road, however, Bain wants to make a clear signal to Israeli internationalist Marciano that he hasn’t simply signed up to warm the bench.

Marciano has found himself on the sharp end of Lennon’s tongue a couple of times this season, the Hibs boss criticising the goals he lost as Motherwell came back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw before branding him “unprofessional” for his part in Rangers scoring twice in the space of three minutes at Easter Road.

Marciano, however, professes to being unfazed by such withering criticism, while welcoming the renewed competition he now faces for the gloves.

Adamant any talks he may or may not have had with Lennon will remain private, he said: “I like to keep these conversations inside the dressing-room and not for the press, but if he decides to say things, I respect that. I have self-confidence and I know when I make mistakes and I know what to do to correct them.

“Hopefully I will make less mistakes. When you make mistakes in the Premiership you are punished more than in the Championship, but that is part of football when you move up a level.

“As a professional I take every game seriously and stay switched on all the time.

“It sounds like I am my own biggest critic. Yes, it’s the best way to make sure you give your best performance. You need to criticise yourself. All the world can criticise you and it doesn’t go in. But when you go to sleep at night you have to ask if you did your best, if you can do better. This is what I try to do every day, to be better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I try.

“As a goalkeeper you get punished for every mistake you make. It’s not like a striker who can miss goals then score one and nobody remembers the misses. But that responsibility is part of the job and a goalkeeper just has to accept that.”

On arriving at Easter Road, Bain revealed he felt his display as Dundee held Hibs to a 1-1 draw may have played a part in Lennon making him his first signing of this transfer window, and Marciano admitted it was certainly a performance he vividly remembers.

“He is a great guy and a great goalkeeper,” said Marciano. “When we played against Dundee earlier in the season, he was great. I was clapping him. I always clap when the goalkeeper on the other team makes a wonderful save. I know how to appreciate good saves. We had so many chances to win that game, but he made many good saves and we didn’t get the win.

“He is a good addition to the squad and the team. It’s good for the goalkeeper’s union to have a good goalie who will push us to be better.”

And as for the threat Bain might pose to his own place in Lennon’s side, the 28-year-old said: “All the way through my career I’ve always had a good relationship with the other goalkeepers. There’s a competition with Rossco, but the way I see it is I always need to prove myself. It’s good that I have competition but I always need to compete with myself. I take competition in a positive way.

“You need to show your abilities and be the best you can in every game and every training session. It doesn’t matter who the other goalies are. You just need to do your best for the sake of your career.”

Having initially been brought to Edinburgh on a season-long loan deal from Israeli club Ashdod, Marciano committed to a four-year contract in the summer and, those well-publicised mishaps apart, he insists he’s loving life in the top flight of Scottish football.

“For the first season in the top league we are doing good. But we all know we can be better. That is the only disappointment, but we will try and do better in the second half of the season. It’s great, we are fourth and that’s what we were aiming for at the start of the season. But we have a feeling that we can do more.

“I’m having a good season. I’ve played good games and I’ve made some mistakes. Every goalie makes mistakes, but I’m happy with my form and I hope to get better as the season goes on.”

Marciano has had the chance to get to know Bain and other new arrival, Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, that bit better during this week’s training camp in the Algarve, a trip he believes will pay dividends when Capital hostilities resume with Hibs heading across Edinburgh for another Scottish Cup derby with arch-rivals Hearts.

He said: “It’s good to be far away from the training environment you are used to every day. It’s great for the group to be together and build something good for the second half of the season. A change of scenery is nice sometimes. It’s a good idea. It is very good for the new players to integrate into the squad. We have a week together and we are getting to know each other and the rest of the players.

“Scott had to get up and sing a song for his initiation into the squad. I didn’t know the song, but he is a great singer and I was applauding that as well.”

Marciano admitted Tynecastle can be the most intimidating of venues for any visiting player – far less a goalkeeper with the home fans only a few yards from his back – but it’s a game he relishes, not least because of Hibs’ recent record against their old foes.

He said: “I like it because we have not lost since I have been here. I hope it stays like that after the winter break.

“The derby is something that will stay with me long after I retire. I love the atmosphere. It’s amazing, especially the away games at Tynecastle. You can really feel our fans behind us. But you can’t listen to the noise around you. You can’t think about things not connected to the game. I just focus on the match. But the atmosphere is nice. In Scotland it’s like that in most matches. The fans come and cheer. I’ve seen a few Portuguese games on the television here and it’s a good level, but you can’t barely see fans in the stands.

“I think football is made by fans and in Scotland you have the football culture with fans who love their football and make a great atmosphere.

“Hopefully we will finish it there, but if not, back at Easter Road and wait for the song with the fans, Sunshine on Leith, after the match.

“That’s the best moment of the season so far.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659259.1515702491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659259.1515702491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ofir Marciano pictured at Hibs' training camp in the Algarve. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ofir Marciano pictured at Hibs' training camp in the Algarve. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659259.1515702491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659260.1515702493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659260.1515702493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Bain put in a man-of-the-match performance against Hibs earlier in the season. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Bain put in a man-of-the-match performance against Hibs earlier in the season. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659260.1515702493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659261.1515702496!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659261.1515702496!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marciano has come under fire for some mistakes this season - including this one against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marciano has come under fire for some mistakes this season - including this one against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659261.1515702496!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659262.1515702499!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659262.1515702499!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Head coach Neil Lennon now has plenty of competition within his squad. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Head coach Neil Lennon now has plenty of competition within his squad. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659262.1515702499!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/scott-bain-arrival-to-sharpen-up-hibs-keeper-ofir-marciano-1-4659466","id":"1.4659466","articleHeadline": "Scott Bain arrival to sharpen up Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515709800000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon believes the signing of goalkeeper Scott Bain will sharpen up the performances of Easter Road No.1 Ofir Marciano.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659464.1515707593!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ofir Marciano was due to start in goal today against Willem II"} ,"articleBody": "

The Israeli internationalist has been on the receiving end of some stinging criticism from Lennon this season, although he has continually reiterated his faith in a player he signed on a four-year contract only a few months ago.

However, the Hibs boss acknowledged that Marciano needed renewed competition to give his game an edge following a season-ending injury to his understudy Ross Laidlaw, Lennon moving as quickly as he could to fill the void by snapping up the out-of-favour Dundee keeper Bain.

Lennon admitted a stunning performance at Dens Park earlier in the season as he denied Hibs to earn Dundee a point had been at the forefront of his thoughts in making his move for Bain. “We’re really pleased with that one,” he said. “He owes me two points because he was excellent at Dens Park when we played them up there.

“We needed a goalkeeper in and we have got one of a really good standard. He got man of the match that day – he kept Dundee in it with some really good saves.”

Bain made his Hibs debut in an impromptu match against Dutch side Excelsior Rotterdam on Tuesday, the two clubs taking advantage of the fact they are based close to each other in the Algarve this week to arrange the game at short notice.

Marciano, however, will be between the sticks as Hibs face another team from Holland, Willem II, today but Lennon expects Bain to be pushing his first-choice goalkeeper all the way.

Lennon, who had been left with only untried 19-year-old Polish goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski as cover for the last couple of months, said: “Scott played really well the other day, even though it was just a bounce game. He’s a good type and obviously there’s a familiarity with the game here as well.

“He’s an Edinburgh boy so he has cut down his travelling time as well. So I think he is pleased with the move.

“It will give Ofir some extra impetus knowing he has real competition. He had competition with Ross, but Ross’ injury curtailed that a bit.

“Now he has competition again and the two of them should push each other on.”

“Obviously, Ross had to go for surgery and a goalkeeper is a very specialist area, so we needed another keeper in because Kevin [Dabrowski] is still very much a development keeper.”

This week’s friendly with Excelsior also saw Liam Fontaine – the subject of interest from an unnamed English club – return to action, the central defender having been hit by a second serious ankle injury earlier in the season.

And, insisted Lennon, having the 32-year-old available again was almost like making another new signing.

He said: “Liam only had one hour of a development game and came through this one unscathed, which is a big boost for us. It’s like a new player, good pro, well respected in the dressing-room.

“He had a really bad injury the last few months of last season and then a similar injury on the other side (ligament coming away from the bone in the ankle)and had a long time not playing. It’s like having a new player in the building, giving us competition and balance at centre half.”.

However, Lennon will be without both Steven Whittaker and Brandon Barker for the Willem II match as the pair fight to be fit for the Scottish Cup derby against Hearts on Sunday week, the right-back having suffered from a pelvic problem while the on-loan Manchester City winger picked up a knee injury at Tynecastle only a few weeks ago as the Capital sides fought out a 0-0 draw.

He said: “Brandon has not trained yet. We are hoping to get him training on Monday and Steven is still feeling the effects of the injury, but we’re hoping to get him out next week as well.

“Today’s game will keep the rest of the squad ticking over in terms of football, but we’re very pleased with the way things have gone.

“We used everyone in the last game, but now we’ll be looking more towards thinking about the week after.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659464.1515707593!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659464.1515707593!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ofir Marciano was due to start in goal today against Willem II","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ofir Marciano was due to start in goal today against Willem II","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659464.1515707593!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659465.1515707596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659465.1515707596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Bain has been signed to provide competition for Marciano","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Bain has been signed to provide competition for Marciano","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659465.1515707596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/no-approaches-for-john-mcginn-so-far-says-hibs-boss-lennon-1-4658297","id":"1.4658297","articleHeadline": "No approaches for John McGinn so far, says Hibs boss Lennon","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515623459000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs boss Neil Lennon insists there have been no approaches for midfielder John McGinn so far this transfer window – although he won’t rule out any coming in.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658296.1515612750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McGinn has 18 months left on his Hibs contract"} ,"articleBody": "

English Championship outfit Nottingham Forest had three bids for the 22-year-old rejected in the summer, Lennon describing the sums offered as “laughable”.

Since then McGinn’s stock has continued to rise, leaving Easter Road chief executive Leeann Dempster to concede they may be “tested” in the coming weeks.

McGinn remains under contract at Hibs for another 18 months and, while Hibs are braced for offers for their star man, Lennon admitted the club hadn’t received any as yet.

He said: “I don’t know how it will pan out, honestly. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t interest in John, but we want to keep him. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t something in the air for him as the weeks go on. We are in a strong position. We have added to the squad – we think we’ve improved it – and we are in a healthy position off the field. It’s stress-free at the minute but that can always change.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658296.1515612750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658296.1515612750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John McGinn has 18 months left on his Hibs contract","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McGinn has 18 months left on his Hibs contract","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658296.1515612750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/big-interview-jamie-maclaren-on-hibs-hearts-world-cup-and-his-darmstadt-hell-1-4658105","id":"1.4658105","articleHeadline": "Big interview: Jamie Maclaren on Hibs, Hearts, World Cup – and his Darmstadt hell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515623400000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Maclaren made a dream move to Germany convinced it would help him cement his place in Australia’s squad for this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658101.1515605173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren can't wait to get started with Hibs. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Instead, it turned into a nightmare, the striker forced to watch on his mobile phone as the Socceroos qualified with a play-off win against Honduras.

And that, the new Hibs signing revealed, was the moment he realised he had to get out of Bundesliga II outfit Darmstadt if he was to have any hope of being part of football’s biggest jamboree.

Although he still has two years of his deal left, Maclaren is convinced six months in Edinburgh – original home to his father Don, who was once on Hearts’ books – will help him win back the place he lost in the Aussie squad as his move to Germany turned sour.

Maclaren said: “The reason I left Australia to go to Germany was to progress and become a Socceroo at every camp. Instead, the six months in Germany became ones to forget.

“When I first signed my contract, I was told we’d play with two strikers and the contract that was given to me was one I couldn’t refuse.

“I rocked up after the Confederations Cup to do pre-season in Austria and everything that happened compared to what I had been told was completely different. The manager was playing with one striker and we went through a spell where we didn’t win for 11 games and I was sitting on the bench thinking, ‘I can help’.

“So it was frustrating training every day knowing I wasn’t going to get a chance when I felt I should.

“But I stayed professional. I lost my spot in the national team as well.

“The last two years I had played regularly – the last six months I have struggled to string games together.

“And when you lose your spot in the national team, your head kind of goes ‘I was with the boys at the camp they had before they qualified for the World Cup’.

“The play-off against Honduras was the sad part. The game was in the morning, German time, and I got to training and the boys were saying, ‘is your team playing’ and I had to say, ‘yeah, and I’m sitting here watching it on my phone’.

“It was so hard to watch, especially the celebrations afterwards when they qualified. That is when it hit home: ‘I can be here until January, but then I need to go’. And I was sitting in Germany when they were in Sydney celebrating having qualified knowing I should have been there.

“That really hit home that it wasn’t the right spot for me.

“So I told my agent I had to go somewhere in January for my mental space, to be happy and to put myself back on the radar. Our Socceroos manager [Ange Postecoglou] has resigned, so we don’t have anyone right now.

“From a personal point of view, I just needed to get out. I signed a three-year deal there so it’s one of those things – you need to take a step back to go forward.”

The initial response from Darmstadt boss Dirk Schuster, who had replaced Thorsten Frings, the man who brought Maclaren to Germany, was not to let him go, but the player said: “I was already beyond the point of no return.

“I was in Rome with my fiancée Iva and I basically begged him to let me go on loan, whether it meant taking a pay cut or anything.”

Coincidentally, Maclaren and Iva had been in Edinburgh – a city he has visited frequently and where his Hearts-supporting grandfather lives in Corstorphine – for a few days before Christmas when rumours began to fly around that both Capital clubs were interested in signing him for the rest of the season.

He said: “There was talk of me going to a Belgium or Holland on loan, but then you have the language barrier and settling in. My fiancée, Iva, has come over from Australia as well, so it’s important to me that she’s happy as well.

“What better place than Edinburgh? It’s a beautiful place and I have those family ties and mates over here.

“We’ll have somewhere to be every night and it just feels right. It’s a bit like home and I’m sure my dad will fly across when he can.”

Asked how close Hearts had come to signing him, Maclaren said: “I was letting my agent deal with it and there was a moment when he came back to me and said ‘Hibs have come in with more proposals’. Darmstadt had the last say, really. It was in their best interests to accept the offer which was better for them, and Hibs came in with more force.

“It showed they wanted me. Hibs were pushing hard and I had to make a decision, but there’s no bad blood as far as I’m concerned. I know it’s a big derby, but for me it wasn’t a case of picking one over the other. It was that Darmstadt held all the cards – I’m happy to be here.”

The fact his debut could well come at Tynecastle when Hibs travel across the city to face their arch-rivals for the third successive season in the Scottish Cup hasn’t, of course, been lost on Maclaren.

He said: “It was the first thing I noticed when I looked at the fixture list! Obviously I’m going to cop a bit of flak, but it will be great to be involved in a match like that. I’ve been involved in some big games before and I can’t wait to sample this one.

“It’s my dad’s hometown. I’m sure my grandad will be at the game, and it will be a feeling that’ll stay with me forever.

“It will be a goosebumps moment.

“My grandad will probably be a Hibs fan for the next six months – I know that because he has already been asking me for tickets to the derby, and he’ll be going in the Hibs end! After that, he’ll be a Jambo again.”

Although now firmly committed to Australia, Maclaren did play two under-19 games for Scotland thanks to his father who once played alongside the likes of Eamonn Bannon, Walter Kidd and Bobby Prentice at Hearts.

The Melbourne-born player said: “‘My first international call-up was for Scotland. I couldn’t believe it, but I hadn’t been picked for Australia so I thought, ‘why not?’ As soon as I played for Scotland, the Aussies were straight on the phone, asking me to make a decision. I thought it was a bit cheeky from them. I was just 17 at the time and I’d already had some problems with Australia when I moved to Blackburn Rovers.

“They had this rule that if you didn’t have a British passport they made it difficult for you. But I had a British passport and they still made my registration difficult. I was out of football for five months without a competitive game because the Australian federation stopped me.

“I was a bit annoyed about that. They stopped me for playing for five months and now they wanted me to play for them.

“I delayed it a bit but eventually I called Billy Stark – who was a good coach – and I told him I was choosing Australia.

“But I loved playing for Scotland and the Flower of Scotland song beforehand. It was a fantastic experience.

“Dylan McGeouch, Callum McGregor, Callum Tapping and Joe McKee were all in the squad that played Denmark twice over there. I’ve kept close with some of those boys and it’s great to see them kicking on in their careers.

“Also I was in the Blackburn youth academy with Anthony O’Connor, who is now at Aberdeen. He’s already texted me to say he’s looking forward to kicking me.

“The call from Australia probably would have come somewhere down the line but it’s funny how one thing happens and then they got in touch. But I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m thankful my first international games were for Scotland because it’s a country I’m familiar with and fond of.

“I’ve still got my Scotland shirt, signed and up on the wall at home. It’s something I will always be proud of.

“I’ve actually got three nationalities. My mum was born in Malta and before I played for the Socceroos I got a call asking me to play for them.”

And if Maclaren’s family ties tend to lie to towards the other side of the Capital, his first taste of football actually came at Easter Road.

He recalled: “As a kid, I used to come over with the family and when I was at Blackburn I’d come up to see my grandad every second weekend. When I played for Scotland Under-19s I’d go to Edinburgh to see my grandad then through to Glasgow.

“It’s a city I’ve always visited, but I’d not been here since 2013. Coming back brought back so many memories, the streets, the castle, which I loved as a kid. It’s a city that’s so easy on the eye and I’m delighted to be back.

“I’ve not been at an Edinburgh derby, but my first Scottish game was Hibs v Dundee at Easter Road in 1999. I was in the stand with my dad, his best mate and my brother. It will be nice to be on the pitch at Easter Road for real.

“I’m just happy to be here and I’m sure I will have family and friends at most games.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658101.1515605173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658101.1515605173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Maclaren can't wait to get started with Hibs. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren can't wait to get started with Hibs. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658101.1515605173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658102.1515605176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658102.1515605176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Maclaren, pictured right, is desperate to force his way back into the Australia reckoning. Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren, pictured right, is desperate to force his way back into the Australia reckoning. Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658102.1515605176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658103.1515605180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658103.1515605180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Maclaren is enjoying getting to know his new team-mates in Portugal. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Maclaren is enjoying getting to know his new team-mates in Portugal. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658103.1515605180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658104.1515605183!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658104.1515605183!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dylan McGeouch played with Maclaren at Scotland under-19 level. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dylan McGeouch played with Maclaren at Scotland under-19 level. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658104.1515605183!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-knock-back-turkish-bid-for-striker-simon-murray-1-4658022","id":"1.4658022","articleHeadline": "Hibs knock back Turkish bid for striker Simon Murray","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515623220000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed the Easter Road club have knocked back a bid from a Turkish club for leading scorer Simon Murray.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658021.1515611754!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs boss Neil Lennon believes Simon Murray, above, has a big role to play at Easter Road"} ,"articleBody": "

The former Dundee United hitman has claimed 14 goals so far in a green-and-white shirt and, although he’s found himself slipping down the pecking order as teenager Oli Shaw has burst on to the scene, Lennon insisted the 25-year-old still has an important part to play this season.

Confirming the offer – believed to be from League One outfit Elazigspor – Lennon said: “We had an offer from Turkey for Simon Murray but we have not accepted that. As it stands, we’ll be keeping Simon unless another bid comes in that makes us think.

“I think it’s testament to how well he has done and I’ve told him that he should take it as a real compliment. It should give him a real shot in the arm. I think he is ahead of expectations after the first half of the season, so it’s excellent for him. We don’t want him to go.”

Rather than lose a striker, Lennon has added another in Australian internationalistist Jamie Maclaren, beating Capital rivals Hearts to secure him on loan from German club Darmstadt until the end of the season.

Asked what he believed Maclaren, who has joined his new team-mates at their training camp in the Algarve along with new goalkeeper Scott Bain, will bring to his side for the second half of the season, Lennon said: “Hopefully goals. His movement is very good, he’s very fit. His workrate off the ball is excellent.

“If you look at his record in Australia, it’s one goal in every two games and that’s a decent standard of football.

“The other side of it is he is hungry, he feels he has a point to prove – not to me or anyone else, but himself.

“And obviously he has the target of making the Australian World Cup squad, so we have got a very motivated player in the building. He will take a bit of time to integrate with the rest of them and it might take a bit of time to get used to the game. But his ancestry is Scottish, he has family in Edinburgh, so there is a comfort there for him straight away. We have been very impressed with what we have seen so far. But the main aspect is he’ll hopefully add to the goal tally.

“He’s similar to Simon, maybe not as physically strong. However, he’s quick and he sniffs out opportunities. I think he is smart, his football intelligence is good, and his movement off the ball is excellent, really good. When we watched footage of him we saw he is a good finisher once he is in there as well. So he has a sort of tunnel vision of how to play the game. His remit is to try and score goals.”

While Murray and Anthony Stokes have both moved into double figures in terms of goals, Lennon believes his side, currently sitting fourth in the Premiership table, should have scored more. He said: “We have had opportunities in games which have gone a begging, so Jamie’s just hopefully going to add to what we already have. We have pace in the team and he brings more. He’s not physically big but he is very, very smart and he likes to play on the shoulder. He doesn’t really get involved in the play a lot but we don’t really need that with what we have in the team.”

Lennon insisted he knew little of Hearts’ interest in the former Brisbane Road frontman, saying: “I don’t know how much was in that, I don’t know if he had spoken to Hearts or not. But we got the impression he was keen to come to us once we had done a bit of work on it. It was a good deal to get over the line early to get him integrated on this trip.

“He has another week of training before we start back, so we’re hoping it will be a good bit of business for us.

“Jamie went to Germany and I don’t think he fell out with the manager, the manager changed his policy of how he wanted to play. He’s fresh, he wants to play games so that hunger is something that appeals to me as well.”

Meanwhile, Lennon revealed there has been an enquiry from an unnamed club for Liam Fontaine.

The 32-year-old defender is out of contract at the end of the season, but it is understood Hibs have not acted on the interest.

Lennon is well placed to make further moves while in Portugal, with the club’s head of player identification and recruitment Graeme Mathie part of the travelling party. He said: “Graeme is out here and always on the phone. We have had a couple of enquiries for one or two players, but nothing concrete. We are prepared for any eventuality and you need to be in January – it can really wind you up a bit. We have the structure in place to handle whatever.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658021.1515611754!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658021.1515611754!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs boss Neil Lennon believes Simon Murray, above, has a big role to play at Easter Road","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs boss Neil Lennon believes Simon Murray, above, has a big role to play at Easter Road","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658021.1515611754!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/jamie-maclaren-is-just-what-hibs-need-says-former-team-mate-1-4656267","id":"1.4656267","articleHeadline": "Jamie Maclaren is just what Hibs need, says former team-mate","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515593190000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Maclaren has been backed to fill the penalty-box predator role at Hibs which has largely remained vacant since the 71-goal Jason Cummings departed for Nottingham Forest last summer.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4656263.1515593180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren, pictured during his time at Brisbane Roar, has been described as a "natural goalscorer". Pic: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The 24-year-old striker has signed for the Easter Road club on loan from German second-tier side SV Darmstadt until the end of the season in an effort to force his way into contention for a place in the Australia squad at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Having been the hottest striker in his homeland before earning his move to Europe last summer, Maclaren is viewed as the cherry on top of the cake for a Hibs team which has become renowned this season for creating plenty chances but not converting enough of them. “Jamie’s a different type of striker to what Hibs have already got,” said former St Mirren, Ross County and Motherwell striker Steven McGarry, who worked with Maclaren for two seasons at Perth Glory and has continued to follow his progress closely from his Australian base. “I still follow Scottish football and I know Hibs have been crying out for a striker. Oli Shaw has come in and done quite well but Jamie’s more dynamic than Oli. He’s probably more like Simon Murray in terms of his work ethic because he doesn’t give defenders a minute’s peace but he’s got more of an eye for goal than Murray – he’s a natural goal-scorer.

“He’s pacey and direct and loves to get in behind, and I think that’s something Hibs are lacking at the moment. He’s not the sort of striker who will want to come and play with the midfield, he prefers to play on the shoulder, he’s a proper penalty-box striker.”

Hearts had been hopeful of landing Maclaren before Hibs made their move. McGarry believes the Aussie will be better suited to the east side of the Capital. “I’ve been following the storyline over the past week or so and it looks like Hearts were also in for him,” noted the 38-year-old Scot, who now runs an academy Down Under. “Looking at the two teams, I definitely think Hibs’ football will suit Jamie better. I don’t think the way Hearts are playing just now would have suited him so much. At Hibs, he’ll benefit from the players playing round about him – the likes of John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch behind him, and Martin Boyle and Brandon Barker out wide delivering crosses for him.”

McGarry watched closely as Maclaren developed from raw prospect into one of the star players in the A-League in Australia after returning to his homeland following a spell in Blackburn Rovers’ academy, where he worked under former Scotland captain Colin Hendry. The Melbourne-born striker, whose father is Scottish, arrived at Glory as a 20-year-old in 2013 and after scoring 11 goals in two seasons there, he kicked on to another level when scoring 43 goals in two seasons with Brisbane Roar. This scintillating form helped him force his way into the national team in 2016, but after five full caps for his country, his World Cup place is now in jeopardy as he hasn’t started a single match at club level since moving to Germany last summer. The fact the Socceroos are currently managerless could count in Maclaren’s favour if a return to scoring form in Scotland coincides with the appointment of a new man at the helm in the coming months. “I played with him in his first year at the Glory before I retired and then I was transitioning into coaching during his second year before he moved on to Brisbane Roar,” said McGarry. “I was pretty friendly with Jamie so I’ve kept a close eye on him. He got his chance pretty early with the Glory and he was pretty raw when he first came in but you could see he was a natural finisher. It took him time to settle in and he did reasonably well in that first year but in his second year, he really started to take off. He built up his confidence and when he went to the Roar, he looked unstoppable at times, particularly in his second season.

“He had some very good players around him at the Roar, just like the Hibs team at the moment, and he was always the guy on the end of crosses and through balls. He was hot property and during that spell he got a call-up for the Socceroos, which shows how highly thought of he was in Australia. There was some big hype about him because he was one of the best strikers in the country. Everyone in Australia likes to follow a young lad going overseas, but unfortunately his move to Germany hasn’t gone the way he would have wanted, which is why he’s getting himself out on loan.”

McGarry believes Maclaren is well equipped to adapt to the demands of Scottish football. “I can definitely see him doing well in Scotland,” he said. “His dad’s Scottish so I’m sure he’ll have told him what it’s all about and what to expect. He won’t have the same time on the ball as he got in Australia, where it’s more about controlled build-up play and not as frantic as it is in Scotland.

“It’s very hard to compare Scottish football with Australian football because sometimes you’re playing in 35 degrees and high humidity out here. The build-up is a lot slower in Australia and you’re allowed more time on the ball to be technical whereas in Scotland it’s very quick and physical, although I think most teams have tried to pass the ball a lot more in the last few years.

“He’ll probably get a bit of a shock with the physical aspect of it but he’s an intelligent player and I’m sure he’ll adjust quickly. He’s very good friends with Ryan Edwards at Partick Thistle, so I’m sure he’ll have had a good chat with him about Scottish football. He’s also been at Blackburn, so he’s certainly not alien to British football. He’ll have a good idea of what to expect.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4656263.1515593180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4656263.1515593180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Maclaren, pictured during his time at Brisbane Roar, has been described as a "natural goalscorer". Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Maclaren, pictured during his time at Brisbane Roar, has been described as a "natural goalscorer". Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4656263.1515593180!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4656264.1515593182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4656264.1515593182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Maclaren made his debut for Australia against England in 2016. Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Maclaren made his debut for Australia against England in 2016. Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4656264.1515593182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4656265.1515593186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4656265.1515593186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Maclaren won the A-League Golden Boot last year. Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Maclaren won the A-League Golden Boot last year. Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4656265.1515593186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4656266.1515593188!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4656266.1515593188!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Steven McGarry witnessed Maclaren's rise to prominence when they played together at Perth Glory. Pic: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steven McGarry witnessed Maclaren's rise to prominence when they played together at Perth Glory. Pic: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4656266.1515593188!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hibs-tickets-for-scottish-cup-derby-with-hearts-sell-out-in-35-minutes-1-4657928","id":"1.4657928","articleHeadline": "Hibs tickets for Scottish Cup derby with Hearts sell out in 35 minutes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515591770000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs have confirmed that their allocation of tickets for the Scottish Cup fourth round tie away to Hearts has sold out.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657927.1515591766!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kyle Lafferty shoots just wide during the last meeting between Hearts and Hibs. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The briefs were put on sale this morning with fans snapping up the 3,600 tickets in just over half an hour.

The Easter Road side, who are visiting Tynecastle Park on Scottish Cup duty for the third season in a row, have been allocated the entire Roseburn Stand for the January 21 fixture.

The last two cup ties have both ended in draws; a goalless stalemate following a 2-2 draw.

The last meeting between the two sides at Tynecastle also ended in a goalless draw, with the game’s main talking point being Oli Shaw’s seventh minute effort; the young striker firing home from a Martin Boyle cross only for the officials not to award the goal.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657927.1515591766!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657927.1515591766!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kyle Lafferty shoots just wide during the last meeting between Hearts and Hibs. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kyle Lafferty shoots just wide during the last meeting between Hearts and Hibs. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657927.1515591766!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/no-reason-why-hibs-can-t-repeat-scottish-cup-heroics-says-skipper-1-4657253","id":"1.4657253","articleHeadline": "No reason why Hibs can’t repeat Scottish Cup heroics, says skipper","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515565915000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs skipper David Gray has insisted there is no reason to believe the Easter Road side can’t repeat their Hampden heroics of 2016 by lifting the Scottish Cup again this season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657252.1515516961!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray, left, lifts the Scottish Cup in 2016. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Gray’s dramatic last-minute winner against Rangers 20 months ago ended the Edinburgh club’s 114-year wait for the trophy, their run to glory sparked by a stunning comeback against Hearts at Tynecastle.

A third successive visit to the Gorgie ground in the competition awaits Gray and his team-mates when they return from a week’s training in the Algarve and if the luck of the draw pitching the two Capital clubs against each other yet again may seem spooky, the Hibs defender is happy to take it.

He said: “That’s fine, if it keeps going the way it has in the past couple of seasons with the runs we’ve had, then we’ll take that, definitely. Obviously they are difficult games and you have no right to go there and say, ‘we will win’, but it’s one we are all looking forward to and knowing we are capable of doing that.”

Hibs will cross the city for the second time in a month undefeated in nine derbies, but Gray feels the belief they gained that day the way they came back from being 2-0 down with ten minutes to play two years ago before going on to win the replay still drives them on.

He said: “We were well on top and didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down. The manager [Alan Stubbs] told us a goal would change the game, if we got one we’d get two. That’s the way it turned out.

“It was the big turning point. We really believed we would take them back to Easter Road and win. The mentality shifted. We were now favourites and I think the Hearts players believed that as well.

“I believe that game was the catalyst for it all. It changed the mindset and you could see that in the way we played in the replay. We blew Hearts away from the start and there was only going to be one winner. We’ve played really well against them from then on in.”

Hibs’ current hold over the Jambos includes a cup repeat last season, Neil Lennon’s side drawing at Tynecastle before knocking Hearts out in an Easter Road replay.

Admitting Hibs face a tough task on the other side of the city, Gray insisted he and his team-mates can dream of winning the cup again.

“Imagine we won it twice,” he said. “There’s no reason why not. We have a good squad and we’ve had good success in the cups over recent years.

“We believe we are good enough to win any game on our day, so you never know what could happen in the cups. We have that winning mentality.

“The first couple of minutes of the semi-final last season against Aberdeen were frustrating, but we got a goal back and were unlucky to go on and lose that game. We know on our day we are good enough to compete against the likes of Celtic.”

Gray revealed the prospect of the first game after the break being against Hearts had added a bit of “extra zip” to training in Portugal. He said: “Every game in SPFL is a big game, everyone wants to play in them.

“But derbies are brilliant. It was disappointing for me sitting watching from the bench last time, so I’m eager to try and play. Everyone wants to play in big games, but the good thing with the break is that we are away, we’ll bond together as a team and put in some hard work.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657252.1515516961!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657252.1515516961!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Gray, left, lifts the Scottish Cup in 2016. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray, left, lifts the Scottish Cup in 2016. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657252.1515516961!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/david-gray-i-love-hearing-hibs-fans-scottish-cup-tales-1-4657097","id":"1.4657097","articleHeadline": "David Gray: I love hearing Hibs fans’ Scottish Cup tales","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515565805000 ,"articleLead": "

Twenty months on and David Gray is far from tiring of hearing about Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup triumph and what it means to Easter Road fans.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657094.1515510055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray knew that Hibs would be fighting at the right end of the Premiership. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Gray was the Hampden hero, the club captain heading home a last-minute winner against Rangers to end the Edinburgh outfit’s agonising 114-year wait to get their hands on the trophy, sparking a green-and-white invasion of the pitch and more than 150,000 lining the streets the following day to see the silverware paraded through the Capital.

He gets reminders virtually every day of that moment, the memories of the goal as vivid as they were on May 21, 2016, undimmed by the passing of time.

Only recently Gray received a letter from Calan Clarkson, his reply prompting a tweet from his mum thanking him for “making an eight-year-old boy’s 2018”.

Gray said: “It’s a great feeling, a special feeling to have created so many memories for everyone. There are random things like walking through the airport and someone will come over to speak to you.

“From a football point of view that cup final was the greatest weekend I’ve ever been involved in and I’ll never forget it. But the most important thing is hearing people’s stories.

“People ask if I get fed up hearing about it, but I love hearing everyone’s stories. I got a letter recently from a young lad and I wrote back to him and his mum said I’d made his 2018. He wrote a wee personal note to say thanks for winning the cup and I wrote back thanking him for his support, I signed it and his letter.

“There are guys who come over and say, ‘my dad went to so many cup finals with Hibs and we did not win, so thank you very much’. You hear how much it means to them all. We were so fortunate as players to be involved in that.

“I love what I do, playing football for a living. I enjoyed playing down south since leaving as a teenager for Manchester United, but the decision I made to come to Hibs when I did was the best decision of my life.”

Gray is currently in the Algarve enjoying some warm-weather training with his team-mates and the 29-year-old is confident seven days in Portugal will get him ready for a third successive Scottish Cup clash with arch-rivals Hearts at Tynecastle on January 21.

Limited by a niggling knee injury to just 12 appearances so far this season, Gray believes the stint in Portugal will allow him to fine-tune his fitness, especially as the winter conditions back home have hindered his recovery.

He said: “I’m feeling good. Obviously it has been a frustrating time, but I am getting there now. I managed to get on the bench for the last couple of games, which has been good, but I just needed a week’s training and then get myself back involved.

“I think the most important thing about coming to Portugal is you can almost guarantee the pitches are going to be playable. That was a big thing for me trying to get myself back fit. I was going out running, but the pitches were frozen, which made it difficult.

“We were training on astro, so the facilities we have here will be a massive bonus for the boys who have had knocks and niggles, but we can also get a good week’s training every single day.”

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon admitted he felt he had been a bit unfair on Gray in asking him to play through the pain barrier, but the right back insisted: “I would not say it was unfair as such.

“When you get the chance to play you are desperate to play and help the boys out, which is something I would always do. As the manager said, I was carrying a knock and it was maybe hindering me a little bit, but I never put the team in jeopardy by playing if I was not fit or able to contribute to the team.

“I was able to do that. Me being me, I was targeting every game saying I’d be fine and push for it, but sometimes you have to be more realistic.”

Rest was diagnosed as the best cure for Gray’s problem but, he admitted, that was hard to find. He said: “It was such a busy schedule, it was hard to try to get the rest into it. It was niggling away and it was getting worse and worse and it got to the point where it was becoming too much.

“That’s when it was taken out of our hands and I had to change the strategy a little bit. I managed to get myself fit enough so the manager could use me for the last couple of games, but with it being such a busy schedule towards the end of December and the big games we had, it was obviously difficult having not played for six or seven weeks to throw me in for them.

“It would have been a big risk. I am just delighted I have managed to get myself back involved again and in the manager’s thoughts.”

Gray’s frustration at being sidelined has, he revealed, been eased by watching his team-mates make such an impression in their first season of Premiership football following a three-year exile in the Championship.

“It’s been fantastic, a great start to the season,” he said. “We have played some really good stuff, we have a good squad and everyone is pulling in the same direction.

“From a personal point of view injuries have frustrated me a bit and I’d rather have played more games, but from the club’s point of view, everyone involved, it’s been great. We’ve enjoyed it, having full stadiums and going away to the big teams again, just a buzz and excitement of continuing the last couple of seasons.

Hibs, who will return from Portugal on Saturday with the squad further strengthened by the loan arrivals of goalkeeper Scott Bain and Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, went into the winter break sitting fourth in the table and while that may have taken some by surprise, Gray insisted no-one inside Easter Road feels that.

“Definitely not,” he said. “We have said for the last couple of seasons we’ve got good enough a squad to compete at the top end of the SPFL.

“It’s alright saying that, but we always believed in ourselves we could do that. There’s only been a couple of games where we have not deserved to get anything. There’s been a couple of times when we have dropped points we feel we shouldn’t have and there’s been a couple of occasions when we’ve maybe been a bit unlucky.

“We deserve to be where we are at the minute and possibly closer to the top with some results going our way. We’re playing well with a great squad, it’s a really positive time.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID HARDIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657094.1515510055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657094.1515510055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Gray knew that Hibs would be fighting at the right end of the Premiership. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Gray knew that Hibs would be fighting at the right end of the Premiership. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657094.1515510055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657095.1515510060!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657095.1515510060!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gray heads home the winning goal in the 2016 Scottish Cup final. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gray heads home the winning goal in the 2016 Scottish Cup final. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657095.1515510060!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657096.1515510064!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657096.1515510064!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gray, pictured being replaced by Steven Whittaker, has found game-time limited. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gray, pictured being replaced by Steven Whittaker, has found game-time limited. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657096.1515510064!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}