Hibs today confirmed English midfielder Marvin Bartley has signed a two-year deal with the Easter Road club.
Head coach Alan Stubbs has been keen to continue strengthening his squad, admitting the need to add a “bit of steel” in the middle of the park following the departures of former skipper Liam Craig and Scott Robertson.
At 29, Bartley will bring a wealth of experience, the 6ft 3in player having previously played for English Premier League newcomers Bournemouth, Burnley and, latterly, Leyton Orient.
After agreeing a deal subject to international clearance, Bartley said: “I’m delighted to sign for Hibs and I’m really excited about what the club can achieve.
“There is a positive vibe around the place ahead of the new season and I’ve been really impressed with everything I’ve seen – from the set-up at the training centre to the manager’s vision for the future.
“I’ve completely bought into that vision and I’m looking forward to playing my part in his plans to drive the club forward and earn promotion.
“This is the next chapter in my career and I will be aiming to use the experience I’ve got to help the team and to make sure it’s a season to remember.”
Stubbs added: “We’re delighted to be able to add Marvin to the squad – his experience, energy and attributes will benefit the team.
“We were looking to bring in another midfielder and Marvin fits the bill – he will be an important signing for us.”
Reading-born Bartley began his career with his hometown club but spent four years playing non-league football, combining his semi-professional career with installing double-glazing before joining Bournemouth where he made 130 appearances.
Highly-rated by Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, Bartley switched to Burnley in 2011 for a reported £350,000 two weeks after Howe had become manager of the Clarets. He played 72 times for the Turf Moor outfit before moving, initially on loan, to Leyton Orient, the deal being made permanent in January of last year.
Hibs’ move for Bartley pre-dated the injury suffered by Danny Handling during Tuesday night’s friendly against Berwick Rangers, Stubbs’ worst fears for the Scotland Under-21 midfielder realised as a scan revealed he’d torn his anterior cruciate ligament and now faces a minimum of six months out of action.
Stubbs believes, though, that advances in medical science will put Handling back in action as quickly as possible.
Handling will have an operation next Friday – possibly by the same surgeon who repaired team-mate Farid El Alagui’s ruptured Achilles tendon last summer – and then begin the long road to recovery.
Stubbs said: “It’s obviously disappointing news. First and foremost for Danny, but us as well.
“I’ve got to say that the inroads we have made into sports science, recovery and operations nowadays is huge. A long time ago you would have thought this injury could be a potentially career-ending injury. Now we see players come back from it within five, six or seven months. We’ll be thinking along those lines with Danny but the best-case scenario would be the start of next year, maybe six months minimum if everything goes really well. It’s disappointing, but the most important thing is that the operation goes well and that he’s on the road to recovery.
“There’s every chance that we’ll use the same surgeon we used on Farid. He came back well and that tells you how less intrusive operations are now. They’ve made significant progress in shortening the time-scales and that’s because of the techniques they use now.”
Handling is one of three youngsters – Sam Stanton and Alex Harris being the others – who have been told they are free to go on loan this season as game time will be limited for them at Hibs. But as unfortunate as Handling’s injury is, Stubbs admitted the door was now open for others. The head coach said: “There’s an opportunity for others and that’s the one thing any player wants. It’s up to them to step forward.”