Hibs 'have no plans to explore Lowland League entry for development team'

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Hibs chief executive Ben Kensell has confirmed that the club has no plans to explore the possibility of entering a B team in the lower reaches of the Scottish football pyramid.

The Easter Road side has been busy adding to its development squad in the last six weeks, bringing in no fewer than five new faces as they continue preparations to revive their second string.

Earlier this month Hearts revealed plans to launch a B team if the SPFL continued without a reserve league. Kensell dismissed the prospect of Hibs going down a similar route but admitted there was a wider issue in Scottish football regarding gametime for players between youth and first-team football.

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“When we talk about the development team, the reason why perhaps it is being profiled a little bit more than others is because Hibs probably haven't done anything in the past on it," Kensell told the Evening News.

Hibs Academy Director Steve KeanHibs Academy Director Steve Kean
Hibs Academy Director Steve Kean

“The gap between under-18 teams, which have a structured league under the SFA, and the first team, is a chasm. It's too big.

"We're building a programme up because what I'm not going to do is wait for the authorities and governing bodies to decide what they want to do when we've already waited for long enough.

"For me, we take our destiny in our own hands and start forming a pathway for players.”

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Under-18s pathway

Kensell brought Steve Kean to Hibs and the former Blackburn Rovers boss has been tasked with spearheading the return of a development team among his duties as the club's new Academy Director while working closely with manager Shaun Maloney.

Kensell explained: “Everyone knows about our Under-18s at the moment and how successful they are but it's no good if we get to this summer and they don't have that pathway to the first team and we also can't put the burden on Shaun to play these players when they may not be physically ready. But they do have real potential.

"It's also got to be the way of the club to bring players through because we can't necessarily buy first-team players and superstars, but what we might be able to do is is create them, nurture them, develop them, and bring them through and that falls into what we're trying to deliver from a model perspective.”

Kensell has paid tribute to Ron Gordon’s vision and revealed that investing in the club’s development side has been a key aim of the American-based owner.

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"We've got probably one of the best owners, in my opinion, in football. Ron firmly believes in that development team and is willing to invest in it, and we thank him for that, because it's quite expensive,” the CEO continued.

Outlining the plans for the revived development team, Kensell added: “We are investing in a games programme and that will involve playing some teams down south.

"We will travel to them, they will travel to us, and we also want to do that up here in Scotland as well so we actually get competitive games, albeit friendlies.

"The players may not be first team just yet, but with more gametime and being coached the way that Shaun wants his players to play, and with a really good relationship between Shaun and Steve, I think this will be more successful than doing nothing.”

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