Hibs transfer window: Defender exits, loan move close, strikers linked, £2m to spend

As the UK transfer window opens for business today, we look at the lay of the land for Hibs going into the summer.
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Where should Hibs be looking to strengthen?

A centre-back has to be very high on the list of priorities. Mikey Devlin was the only natural defensive stopper brought in after Ryan Porteous was sold in January (and played only once, up front). At present, that leaves Paul Hanlon and Rocky Bushiri as natural first-team centre-backs with nothing behind them, unless Will Fish can be brought back on loan.

With Kevin Nisbet already sold and money to spend, a forward with a bit of presence to play alongside Martin Boyle and Elie Youan is a must. Another right-sided player is also required with Chris Cadden set to miss the majority of this year. With Marijan Čabraja returning to Croatia, you’d reckon Hibs will try again to sign someone who could be the long-term successor to Lewis Stevenson at left-back. And while he is club captain, after his form to end the season, you have to think another goalkeeper to compete with David Marshall is being considered.

Hibs have money to spend after selling Kevin Nisbet for more than £2 million and need to strengthenHibs have money to spend after selling Kevin Nisbet for more than £2 million and need to strengthen
Hibs have money to spend after selling Kevin Nisbet for more than £2 million and need to strengthen

Who have Hibs been linked with?

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Free agent striker Lee Bonis and Larne forward Macauley Bonne have both been rumoured to be on the shortlist.

Hibs have been tracking Welsh international midfielder Jonny Williams, but the 29-year-old free agent is close to completing a move to Bradford City on a three-year deal.

Who is likely to be sold?

Will Fish spent last season on loan at Hibs from Manchester United and boss Lee Johnson wants him back.Will Fish spent last season on loan at Hibs from Manchester United and boss Lee Johnson wants him back.
Will Fish spent last season on loan at Hibs from Manchester United and boss Lee Johnson wants him back.

Of potential fringe players heading out of the door, Lewis Miller is a long way from home to be sitting on the bench but did impress in two starts at the end of the season. The same goes for Elias Melkersen, who will soon return from a loan spell at Sparta Rotterdam. The Dutch side had an option to buy but he made just two first-team appearances.

Harry McKirdy hasn’t had a great time of things and may look to return to the lower reaches of English league football, where he was free-scoring for Swindon Town prior to his move north. Fellow striker Christian Doidge is also unlikely to have much of a future at Easter Road having spent the majority of the campaign on loan at Kilmarnock.

Who has left the club?

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Left-back Marijan Čabraja has returned to his native Croatia to join NK Rijeka for an undisclosed fee after one season in Edinburgh. Striker Kevin Nisbet has already sealed a £2million move to English Championship side Millwall.

Aiden McGeady, Kevin Dabrowski and Michael Devlin were released following the expiration of their contracts. Devlin has already agreed a deal to join fellow cinch Premiership side Livingston. They will be followed out of the door by youngsters Tom Carter and Josh McCulloch.

Three other young players have also been given new homes, though only on a temporary basis. Hibs have already agreed loans with Airdrieonians to take on Josh O’Connor and Murray Aitken for the beginning of the 2023/24 season after the Lanarkshire club won promotion to the Championship, while goalkeeper Murray Johnson will join up with former Hibee Marvin Bartley for a stint at Queen of the South.

What about the loanees?

CJ Egan-Riley, Will Fish, Matthew Hoppe and Mykola Kuharevich have all returned to their parent clubs. Hibs have stated their intention to try and get a couple of them back next year and are closing in on a deal to bring back Fish from Manchester United. Egan-Riley, who also finished the last campaign as regular starter in the first-team, is another one Johnson would like to bring back.

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Kuharevich was a useful presence in attack, but had injury problems and is undergoing rehab. Hoppe tailed off after a promising start following his move in January so the chances of him appearing again next season are rather slim.

When are the players back?

The players return to East Mains for pre-season training on June 22 and the first-team squad will face FC Edinburgh at Meadowbank on Saturday July 1. Other first-team friendlies have yet to be announced, but the development team have games lined up.

The squad will be jetting off to Marbella for a summer training camp from July 6 to 14 and are hoping to play two games when they are away.

The new cinch Premiership campaign is due to kick off on the weekend of August 5/6. Hibs will not take part in the Viaplay Cup group phase in July after qualifying for European football.

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The draw for the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League will take place on 21 June. The first leg will take place on 27 July with the second leg a week after that.

What did last year’s summer transfer window look like?

A staggering 15 first-team players (16 if you include Kyle McClelland, who played in the League Cup) were signed up in the summer window. The club had suffered through a very disappointing campaign the term prior, sacking two managers before the end of the season, so it was to be expected, especially with a new boss coming in and wanting to make his own mark. But the squad became bloated and still lacked a lot of quality in depth. There were also a number of punts on players who were either projects or flutters and not ready to play regular first-team football at a club like Hibs.

With very few players heading out the door as free agents, Hibs will need to prioritise quality over quantity this time around.

What 2024 contracts require the most attention?

With Nisbet gone, there are no key players out of contract next summer who the club will be concerned about losing for free. The bigger concern is the fact the majority of players are contracted through to 2025 with so many of them doubted as being capable of contributing consistently to a Hibs team capable of finishing third.