Newcastle United game taught Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom more than he expected

Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom during the pre-season friendly match at Easter Road, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 30, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Hibernian. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom during the pre-season friendly match at Easter Road, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 30, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Hibernian. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom was more than happy to see his players “stretched” by Newcastle United, revealing he learned more than he expected from the 3-1 defeat.

Rather than simply try to contain the English Premier League outfit on Tuesday, an exercise which he believed would have been pointless, Heckingbottom opted to make it an open game, not only to entertain the supportersbut to see his players tested by the Magpies’ multi-million pound signings.

The head coach said: “We’d had four competitive games so going back to a friendly and in the build up to the first game of the season was not ideal.

“So I got more out of it than I wanted.

“It would have been pointless in a way to set up in a way to try to frustrate and stop Newcastle because we have St Mirren at home in a few days so it was a case of go and pass the ball, to go and play.

“We wanted to make it an open game, just for the spectacle of us watching it and to expose ourselves one-on-one against top quality players. We wanted to make the game really stretched, to have recovery runs, last-ditch tackles and to be busting a gut to counter them.

“From that aspect we got something out of it that we have not been able to do in our friendlies and League Cup games so far because we have been on top.

“The players were looking forward to it. That’s one of the reasons why we took the game, it was good for the fans, the players were champing at the bit to play against £40 million, £50 million players.

“They were stretched in a different way to what they have been and will come up against in most games.”

If it had been a league or cup Heckingbottom would have approached it in a vastly different manner but he insisted that would have been pointless in the friendly.

He told Hibs TV: “We didn’t set up to protect the centre-backs, to protect the full-backs. We really exposed them, we had Darren McGregor and Paul Hanlon one-on-one against Joelinton and (Miguel) Almiron, that they have spent bucket loads on. It was a different challenge for them, one I feel they were ready for, one they relished and stood up to.”