PAT FENLON revealed Hibs are set to become more reliant on the club’s promising young talent next season, as the manager doesn’t anticipate a raft of new arrivals this summer.
Recent close-seasons have seen major overhauls in personnel at Easter Road, but, although braced for the exit of some key men, Fenlon insists transfer activity is unlikely to be quite as dramatic this time round.
Instead, he is poised to ensure more continuity by allowing the likes of Alex Harris, Danny Handling and Ross Caldwell to become more prominent members of the squad next term after cutting their teeth in the first team this season, with their involvement having been ratcheted up over the past few games in preparation.
Fenlon told the Evening News: “We’ve got a fair few players out of contract and we don’t have loads of money to spend, but we’ve got some good young players coming through and I’m happy with most of the players that are under contract, so we’ll assess it further in the close-season. We’ve got Liam Craig coming in and we will add a few more, but we won’t be adding loads. Like everyone else, we just don’t have the money to sign a lot of new players.
“We’ve got four or five youngsters that we had pencilled in to come through at the end of this season and the start of the season and that’s still on target. We’ve already got Alex, Danny and Rossco into the team, so we’d hope they’ll have a big part to play next year.
“There’s one or two others on the fringes who will probably come more into the fold next season. The likes of Sam Stanton, Bradley Donaldson and Jordon Forster have all had a wee taster of being involved with the first team, so we’d be looking to bring some of them in as well as a few experienced players to help them. We won’t be in a position to spend a lot of money this summer, that’s for sure.”
Young Caldwell capped a good week for himself when he netted two penalties in the Under-20s’ 3-1 win over Dundee in Linlithgow last night. The striker was recalled to the first-team fold when he came off the bench in last Monday’s draw with Aberdeen and then scored his first goal for the club in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with St Mirren. Fenlon, who was at the Under-20s game, is encouraged by what he’s seeing from the 19-year-old, who is currently reaffirming the manager’s belief that next season will be a big one for him.
He added: “Ross got another two penalties last night so he’s full of confidence at the moment. He went off the boil a bit but he’s working hard in training and he’s got himself into a decent bit of form. You can see the confidence in his game at the moment. Coming on and scoring at the weekend will have helped him and he looked sharp again last night.
“We always had Danny and Ross in the same bracket where next season was going to be a big one for them. Our intention was to get them some game time this year and get them more involved next year, so I don’t see that changing. They’ve done well enough to believe they can have a big part to play next year.”