Hibs boss Pat Fenlon believes his latest signing Gary Deegan has much more to offer after the midfield powerhouse turned in a storming performance on his derby day debut.
Fenlon praised both Deegan and skipper James McPake for bringing the sort of leadership he’s looking for to bear on the Easter Road side as they battled back from gifting arch rivals Hearts an opening goal to claim a point in the first clash between the Capital sides since the Gorgie outfit’s 5-1 demolition of their city neighbours in the Scottish Cup final.
And he was not only impressed by the way in which Deegan completed the 90 minutes, his first full competitive game since lining up for former club Coventry City against Watford in mid-March, but by the fact the 24-year-old negotiated the feisty encounter despite running the risk of being sent off after picking up an early yellow card for a foul on Tynecastle winger David Templeton.
Fenlon said: “Gary is a good player, he gives us a different dimension. It was pleasing to see him last the game on two counts. He picked up a yellow card early and as he hasn’t played a lot of games you worry that he’d run out of steam and be late in a tackle but I thought he kept his composure well.
“What McPake, Deegan and a couple of others give you are the leadership qualities we did not have a lot of in the dressing room when I came in.”
Fenlon, however, had more than just the performances of McPake and Deegan to please him, reckoning Hibs-daft striker Leigh Griffiths, who grabbed that all important equaliser on the stroke of half-time, had shown why he’s so highly rated while he believed David Wotherspoon’s display was the best he’d seen from the Scotland Under-21 midfielder.
Wotherspoon missed out entirely on the cup final, failing even to find a seat on the bench, but he’s been an ever present throughout pre-season and in the opening matches of the new campaign, leading Fenlon to hope he’ll flourish over the coming months.
The Irishman said: “Leigh’s a good player, he knows he has just got to concentrate on playing his football. He can play at a much higher level if he puts his mind to it, he’s an immense talent.
“And that was David’s best game since I have been here. He’s got to take belief from that. He’s got all the ability in the world.”
Having made seven signings this summer, Fenlon remains hopeful he can add further new faces to his squad with veteran Finnish striker Shefki Kuqi in the directors’ box for the derby. Although he was coy about Kuqi’s presence, Fenlon conceded: “We are looking to bring in players, that’s all I can say at the moment.”