Hibs galvanised by break, insists Alan Stubbs

Alan Stubbs
Alan Stubbs
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Alan Stubbs today claimed his Hibs players are “desperate to put things right and start the ball rolling” after picking up just one win from their first four Championship matches.

Hibs return to action at home to bottom-of-the-league Cowdenbeath tomorrow, with the head coach contending they are now in better shape after the two-week international break.

The former Everton and Celtic defender has bolstered his squad with three new faces since the “unacceptable” 2-1 defeat at Alloa and insisted his players were now fully aware of his expectations and intentions.

Having spoken to them as a group, Stubbs has made it clear that those who fall below standard won’t have a long-term future at the club.

“The break has given us the chance to really look at the situation,” he said. “We have addressed it and we have to move on very quickly from that.”

Since their last outing a fortnight ago, Hibs have added midfielder Dylan McGeouch and strikers Dominique Malonga and Jake Sinclair.

The incomings have been slightly countered by the loss of hitman Farid El Alagui, who faces several months on the sidelines after sustaining a ruptured Achilles.

Stubbs said: “We would have liked to have Farid fit but that speeded up the process of bringing in another striker although we had actively been looking to do that before he was injured. We have had 20 outfield players training for the last four or five days, we are getting towards what I’d like to be working with. There is a healthiness in competition for places. The three coming in has really lifted the intensity of training and that’s been really good to see.”

Stubbs believes his players have to develop a nasty streak when it comes to defending, pointing out too many goals have been conceded from set pieces. He wants them to stand up for themselves when opposition teams put the pressure on.

He said: “We have to understand that we have no God-given right to go out there, pass the ball about and other teams are going to say ‘okay, you can play’. But when teams get in our faces what are we going to do about it?

“That’s when I expect to see the players roll their sleeves up, have a real grittiness about them and to combat that because when you combat someone’s strengths they have nothing else to give.

“Not many of the goals we have conceded have come from open play We cannot create the chances we have in games, especially against Falkirk, and then a team scores against us from a set piece, a corner or a free-kick.

“We have to be stronger and nastier in the right way to defend those situations. We have to be focused and more concentrated in those situations because, like it or not, that will be the best chance some teams have to score against us.”

Stubbs, though, is convinced his team are currently going through the sort of difficult period most sides will endure at some stage of the season.

He said: “It’s a marathon and I’d rather have my sticky patch at the beginning of the season than in the middle or the end. I am not happy about it, but I feel it’s just a matter of time before we start to turn these performances into results.”

Meanwhile, Stubbs disclosed that, while former Celtic defender Lewis Toshney continues to train with his squad, no deal has been struck, describing the situation as “ongoing.”