Hibs still expect to have new head coach in for Hamilton match

Paul HeckingbottomPaul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom
Hibs still expect to have a new head coach in the home dugout for Saturday’s match against Hamilton despite talks with Michael Appleton stalling.

The former Oxford United boss was widely expected to be named as Neil Lennon’s successor as head coach at the Easter Road club after emerging as the leading candidate from a list of around 100 applicants.

But as negotiations between the 43-year-old and club officials progressed, it is understood an impasse was reached regarding certain aspects of the proposed 
contract and that unless there is another dramatic twist to the tale, then it’s unlikely Appleton will take charge of the Capital club.

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However, former Barnsley and Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom is believed to have been equally as impressive when interviewed and the club had continued to have dialogue with him in the intervening days. Heckingbottom would now appear to be in pole position although, again, negotiations have not been concluded. However, it is hoped an appointment will be made before this weekend, negating the need to ask Eddie May, Hibs’ head of academy coaching, and first team coach Grant Murray to take charge of affairs for a fifth time.

Meanwhile, Hibs are believed to be bitterly disappointed that their appeal against the notice of complaint issued by the SFA’s compliance office Claire Whyte, which has resulted in on-loan Leicester City defender Darnell Johnson being suspended for two games has failed.

Johnson was booked by referee Craig Thomson for a poor challenge on Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre. The Honduran internationalist was subsequently stretchered off, although his injury was later revealed not to be as serious as first feared.

But Whyte decided that was insufficient punishment and charged the 20-year-old, who was injured himself in the incident, with serious foul play, much to the dismay of Hibs who were left baffled at how Celtic skipper Scott Brown and defender Jozo Simunovic had escaped such charges following clashes with Mark Milligan and Oli Shaw respectively.

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However, after a lengthy hearing at Hampden in which George Craig, Hibs head of football operations, headed the club’s delegation, the fast track panel agreed with the compliance officer, meaning Johnson will miss this weekend’s match with Hamilton and the trip to face Dundee a week on Friday.