Alan Stubbs believes he’s put the final piece of the jigsaw in place by strengthening his squad once again with the surprise signing of former Hearts defender Adam Eckersley.
The 30-year-old has agreed a short-term deal with the Easter Road club until January and will, insisted the head coach, provide both cover and competition for Lewis Stevenson at left back, the one position in which he remained short in numbers.
Hibs fans, though, will have to wait to see Eckersley don a green and white shirt as he’s currently recovering from a “straightforward” knee operation which, in Stubbs’ estimation, will delay that appearance for three or four weeks.
Stubbs said: “It was brought to our attention just before the deadline, but obviously there was no rush to do it because of his situation. We were quite relaxed about it and he was keen to come up and get it done.
“He’ll finish his rehabilitation with us and then provide competition for places in what was the one area we did not have cover, so I am delighted we have managed to bring in someone of Adam’s quality to provide competition at left back.
“We saw him last season and know he can obviously play at this level.”
Stubbs revealed just how thin his options were in that area with teenager Callum Crane, seen as the long-serving Stevenson’s understudy, having broken the fifth metatarsal in his foot, an injury which will sideline him for three or four months.
He said: “In the short term it seemed the right thing to do. We will obviously look at it again in December or the early part of January and see what the situation is, whether it has changed. But he’ll provide us with a safety net if anything was to happen to Lewis while also providing competition for that left-back position. I feel we are well positioned now to kick on with our season.”
Hibs take on Alloa at Easter Road today in the Championship and Stubbs insisted he is not concerned at the nine-point gap which separates Hibs from leaders Rangers – but admitted he doesn’t want to see it widen.
The Ibrox club took advantage of Hibs being idle last weekend – their match with Falkirk postponed owing to three Hibees being away on international duty – to hammer Raith Rovers 5-0.
Stubbs, however, is determined to focus solely on winning games on a week by week basis rather than dwell on how the table currently looks, pointing out that his side do have a game in hand, while the narrowness of their defeat in Govan three weeks ago suggested there wasn’t, in fact, much between the teams.
He said: “Obviously I would like the gap to be smaller, but it is what it is because Rangers have played a game more than us. We are looking to get three points today against Alloa and that’s all that matters.
“The result against Rangers could have been so different. If it had been we’d have had a fantastic week, going on to beat Stranraer in the League Cup and then enjoying a good win against Raith. It shows just what small dividing lines there can be in football.
Stubbs has warned that Danny Lennon’s side will have been buoyed by their first league win of the season away to Dumbarton where Hibs lost on the opening day.
He said: “I have a lot of respect for Danny. He will come with a team that will be well-organised, disciplined and I am sure they will try to stop us from playing. But we have to combat that and make sure we keep improving our performance week in, week out.”
Stubbs has revealed Jamie Insall was missing from the midweek development squad match against Partick because of injury. “Jamie suffered a back spasm literally on the day of the game. He wanted to play but he was not 100 per cent. It was an unforeseen circumstance we could do nothing about.”