Hibs to face Brentford and top English Championship teams in new '1875 Invitational'

Hibs will face teams from England’s Premier League and Championship in a new friendly competition to be contested by the Edinburgh club’s development side next season.

The Capital club is reviving its second-string XI in a bid to better bridge the gap between Academy football and the first team.

Hibs have held positive talks with the SFA and SPFL over the re-introduction of a reserve league but with Celtic, Hearts, and Rangers all attempting to field B teams in the Lowland League next season, the future of such a division appears unclear.

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Easter Road chiefs have made no secret of their plans to pursue their own games programme regardless of other competitions.

Academy Director Steve Kean revealed last month that discussions were ongoing with a number of English teams, and those talks have resulted in the creation of a programme dubbed the ‘1875 Invitational’ featuring Hibs, Blackburn Rovers, Brentford, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, and Queens Park Rangers.

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Hibs are likely to face the Under-23 sides from the English teams, having already taken on youthful teams from Brentford and Huddersfield over the past three years, with a series of friendly fixtures taking place at home and away throughout the 2022/23 season in a bid to add variety and challenges to the development squad’s footballing journey.

Speaking last month Kean said: “Sometimes when we play games here, everybody knows everybody else; the players know the players in the other team.

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Joao Balde in action for the Hibs' development team against Huddersfield in February. Picture: Hibernian FC

"If we can play games against under-23 sides [from England] then that would be a big step to pushing our youngsters and making it a much more dynamic season for our development team. It would really push our players in a different direction.”

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Hibs are keen to ensure that there is a clear pathway from the club’s Academy to first-team football in order to hold on to their brightest prospects and attract promising youngsters from elsewhere.

Last season eight members of the club’s under-18 squad were involved with the first team, with five making their senior debuts including four in the final game of the season against St Johnstone.

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Kean added: "Most of our under-18s plus some slightly older players will be the real nucleus of the development team.

"This will help us keep them in the building longer and bridge the gap to the first team.”