Hibs talking points as players report back for first day of pre-season training
Hibs preparations for the new season start today as the players report back for pre-season training.
The squad – minus Kevin Nisbet who has been given some extra days leave following his Euro 2020 exertions with Scotland – will reconvene at the East Mains base for the first time since the Scottish Cup final defeat to St Johnstone 37 days ago.
The rawness of that Hampden loss will have eased over the close season with Hibs able to look ahead to a campaign that promises much excitement with a return to European competition just over three weeks away, thanks to last season's third-placed finish, before the new Scottish Premiership season kicks off on Sunday, August 1 with a trip to Fir Park to face Motherwell.
There is also the prospect of fans returning to Easter Road for the first time since the start of lockdown last March.
Before the competitive action gets underway, Hibs will look to fine tune their preparations in a number of pre-season friendlies.
Two warm-up fixtures have been confirmed so far – Mikel Arteta's Arsenal will visit Easter Road on July 13 in what is sure to be a tough test for Jack Ross and his players.
Three days later, on July 16, there is a Friday night trip to Stark's Park to face Raith Rovers in Iain Davidson's testimonial match, the defender being honoured after 14 years service with the Kirkcaldy club across two spells.
Hibs then launch straight into their Europa Conference League second round qualifer first leg at Easter Road against either Mons Calpe SC from Gibraltar or FC Santa Coloma from Andorra on Thursday, July 22.
They won't know which side they will face until a week before, when the two potential opponents complete their first round second leg qualifier.
Another unknown centres around what the Hibs starting line-up might be for the start of what the club will hope is a long and successful European adventure.
There is transfer interest around a number of first team stars with the futures of Josh Doig, Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Porteous uncertain as the club braces for offers, while Jackson Irvine has yet to accept a contract that has been on the table since the end of last season.
While departures are possible, so too are new arrivals, while a number of players will also be hoping to use pre-season to force their way into the manager's plans.
Stevie Mallan is back from a loan spell in Turkey, and the midfielder is determined to win his place back in the side having found himself down the pecking order last term.
Scott Allan also returns from his loan at Inverness, and after his well documented health scare, the prospect of such a cultured playmaker getting back to full fitness on the back of a full pre-season is sure to excite Hibs followers.
Daniel McKay, the new signing from Inverness, has bolstered attacking options in the wide areas but with the likes of Jamie Murphy and Martin Boyle for competition, the 20-year-old will need to stand out in pre-season to force his way into the starting XI.
Another looking to make an impact is Kyle Magennis, the midfielder having endured an injury-interrupted start to his Hibs career following his October arrival from St Mirren.