Four talking points as Hibs see off Europa of Gibraltar in fiery friendly in Spain
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Alfie off the mark
Hibs have had a series of forwards in recent memory who have struggled with finding the net, to the extent that it has become something of an unfortunate pattern, so it will have been pleasing for Lee Johnson and Adam Le Fondre that the experienced striker found the net against the Gibraltar National League outfit. With the usual caveats of it being a friendly, and opposition of a lower standard than the other 11 Scottish Premiership teams, getting off the mark in just his second friendly appearance could bode well for Le Fondre, who hit the woodwork twice against Edinburgh. The 36-year-old could be an invaluable member of Johnson’s squad this season and not having to worry about getting his goal could be hugely beneficial.
‘For those of you watching on YouTube, Hibs are in the purple...’
Yes, it was just a pre-season friendly; yes, it didn’t really matter much in the end, and yes, if you were there in person then the dark purple of the Hibs kit was fairly different from Europa’s green and black outfit. But the comments from those following the livestream on YouTube told their own story as fans struggled to tell the two teams apart thanks to the camera pointing directly into the harsh Spanish sun. ‘Like watching two teams of shadows playing football’ was one description. Hibs do have a third kit to come but thankfully the chances of it being another dark effort are slim, given one of the goalkeeping kits is all-black, which should mean no risk of a kit clash in away games against the likes of Dundee, Ross County, and St Johnstone.
Youngsters get their chance
While the Hibs development squad were licking their wounds after a 3-2 friendly defeat by Berwick Rangers, four players who might have been involved at Shielfield Park were limbering up for involvement in Spain. Jacob MacIntyre, Reuben McAllister, Kanayo Megwa, and Rudi Molotnikov were all involved in Estepona, with Johnson hailing their input. “Naturally, I was looking at the young players a lot throughout the game, as I know what the senior players can do,” he said. “The young players are just as important as they are the future. I thought Kanayo was excellent; Jacob, Reuben and Rudi were all good in the second half.”
With Ewan Henderson ruled out ahead of kick-off, and Joe Newell limping off early doors, there may be a slight concern over the availability of players for the upcoming Europa Conference League encounter against either Víkingur Gøta or Inter Club d’Escaldes. However, with new signing Dylan Levitt playing 45 minutes, Josh Campbell an hour, Jake Doyle-Hayes and Jimmy Jeggo getting a half each, Nohan Kenneh and the versatile Allan Delferrière plus the likes of MacIntyre and Molotnikov keen to impress, Hibs should have enough in reserve in the middle of the park in case Henderson and Newell face spells on the sidelines. It’s something Johnson has been keen to address, given his admission that the squad was light on the bench towards the end of last season.