Five talking points from Hibs’ win over Linlithgow Rose

Neil Lennon surveys proceedings at Prestonfield. Picture: SNS Group
Neil Lennon surveys proceedings at Prestonfield. Picture: SNS Group
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Hibs recorded a 2-0 win away to Linlithgow Rose in the Easter Road side’s first pre-season friendly, courtesy of a Danny Swanson double. Patrick McPartlin looks at five talking points from Prestonfield

Hibs need to beef up their attack

The arrival of Florian Kamberi on a permanent basis after his goalscoring exploits in the second half of last season would have been a shot in the arm for Hibs, but Saturday’s game revealed that there is still room for reinforcements in attack.

Simon Murray partnered the Swiss striker during the first half, but neither could find a way past Gary Maley in the Rose goal.

On the bench, Oli Shaw was the only out-and-out striker named, although Martin Boyle’s return from injury does provide Hibs with something different up top and the former Dundee man was given a run-out in the second half in a more advanced role.

Bringing back Jamie Maclaren on a permanent deal is something the player himself, Lennon and the Easter Road support would all dearly like to happen but if that move is a non-starter, Hibs are still in need of a player to perform a similar role.

Hibs fans would no doubt like to see a return, too, for Scott Allan - the Celtic midfielder played a key role in the club’s strong showing in the second half of last season - while rumours linking Barnsley’s Stevie Mallan and Preston winger Daryl Horgan suggest that the Hibs recruitment team are prioritising more attacking options.

Swanson isn’t hanging about

Danny Swanson was limited to just 21 appearances in all competitions last season owing to a mixture of injury and personal issues, but the boyhood Hibs fan isn’t resting on his laurels.
With just one goal to his name in green and white going into this pre-season friendly, he had registered another two by the time the final whistle blew.

His first goal - a neat one-two before an arcing effort into the top corner - handed Hibs the breakthrough they’d spent the opening 45 looking for, and his second - a low finish from Shaw’s cutback - put a bit of daylight between the capital club and their opponents.

He was a constant threat in midfield, always looking for the ball, or a defence-splitting pass, or an effort on goal. If he can keep up this sort of form, his presence will almost feel like a new signing.

This could be Slivka’s season

Chosen to start in the middle of the park, Vykintas Slivka looked assured on the ball and at times seemed to be everywhere. His versatility perhaps hampered him at times last season as he was often used as a makeshift but played in the middle of the park, alongside John McGinn and just ahead of Marvin Bartley, the Lithuanian international looked the part.

One fierce shot in the first half stung Maley’s fingers and he continued his good work in the second half, picking out passes, dropping back to collect the ball and pushing forward to support the attack.

Lennon will likely be on the lookout for midfielders following Dylan McGeouch’s exit but if Slivka builds on from his performance against Linlithgow and his displays at the end of last season, the Hibs boss will have less to worry about in the middle of the park.

Gray’s return

There can’t be many things more frustrating than suffering a bad injury during your comeback game from a bad injury, as happened to David Gray.

The club captain made a long-awaited return to action at Prestonfield and engineered the opener for Hibs, as Swanson played a neat one-two with Gray, before finishing in the top corner.
Gray’s return is a welcome boost for Lennon if he is planning on sticking with three at the back as he has another option on the right flank.

Steven Whittaker, Efe Ambrose, Slivka and Boyle all played there last season but having Gray as an option allows the quartet to be used in their primary roles as well as ensuring Hibs are well stocked for cover in every position.

From boys to men

With the Reserve League returning and the Development League being abolished, there will be a far greater chance that the standout players from the Hibs Under-20s who are on the fringes of the first team will be coming up against more experienced players, rather than players of the same age.

Oli Shaw and Sean Mackie, who came on as a sub for Lewis Stevenson in the second half, coped well with Linlithgow Rose and it will be interesting to see how the promising crop of youngsters, such as Lewis Allan, Fraser Murray, Ben Stirling, Mackie etc. cope with regularly facing tougher opponents.