Hibs will prepare for their Europa League adventure at their East Mains training base rather than travel abroad, the Evening News has learned.
Neil Lennon’s players will kick off their season in the first qualifying round of the competition – the first leg being on July 12 – and will discover their opponents when the draw is made in Nyon on June 19, a few days after they report back to work.
The Easter Road club qualified thanks to Celtic winning the Scottish Cup, their fourth-place finish in the Premiership proving to be good enough, but their pre-season plans had always centred on a “staycation” rather than venturing further afield – the routine they followed last summer before they returned to the top flight after a three-year absence.
With their £5 million centre on the outskirts of Ormiston at their disposal and Scotland enjoying, hopefully, the best weather of the year at that time club officials see little point in going to the expense of travelling abroad only to enjoy similar facilities. The shortness of the close-season has also been another factor with the Betfred Cup group stages kicking off on July 14 although Hibs will now not enter that competition until August 18.
Any trip would, they say, eat into what is a vital period with three days on the training ground likely to be lost – two in travelling to and from any intended destination while another would probably be needed to in give the players a “recovery” day on their return.
Instead, Hibs will probably aim to finance some warm-weather training during the Premiership’s winter shutdown.
A schedule of friendlies to bring Lennon’s players up to speed is also in the process of being organised with the visit of Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, newly promoted to the English Championship, for Paul Hanlon’s Testimonial Match on Saturday, July 8, offering a final chance to fine-tune the squad ahead of that European tie.