Hibs to arrange five first-team friendlies as pre-season plans take shape
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Players return to East Mains for the dreaded pre-season testing on Thursday June 22, just days after Scotland’s European qualifying double-header against Norway and Georgia and 24 hours after learning their first opponents in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League. They then head out to Spain for a training camp from July 6 until July 14, giving them nearly a fortnight before their first European fixture.
Friendly matches for the first team are still being finalised but there are expected to be a handful of games throughout next month, but with head groundsman Stevie Thomas overseeing extensive work on the Easter Road pitch for the last two weeks, the stadium will be out of action until later in the summer.. Two fixtures will be played during the club’s training camp near Marbella, while a match against English Championship side Watford, arranged as part of the deal taking defender Ryan Porteous to Vicarage Road in January, is likely to take place in Edinburgh towards the end of next month, although details are still being ironed out. Hibs are also working to arrange a match in between the first and second legs of their European match, likely to be an away game.
The Capital club has already confirmed matches for their development side against East of Scotland First Division champions Dunbar United on Tuesday July 4 at New Countess Park, and Lowland League members Berwick Rangers on Saturday July 8, with further fixtures expected to be announced later this month. The team is likely to be taken by Gareth Evans, the club’s new academy director following the departure of Steve Kean to take up the managerial position at Georgian side Torpedo Kutaisi, and Darren McGregor, who retired from playing at the end of last season and was named the new head coach of the club’s under-18s after working as a coach alongside Evans and Kean last year.
The development side for the two confirmed matches is likely to be a mixture of older academy players and some of the under-18 squad, with a chance of some fringe first-teamers being involved as well.