What Hibs will be getting in new signing Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson has penned a two-year deal to become Paul Heckingbottom's first signing at Hibs. Craig Fowler has a look at where the defender will fit in next season.
Coming into the transfer window, another centre-back may not have been high on the wishlist of many Hibs supporters. Darren McGregor, Paul Hanlon and the emerging Ryan Porteous are all contracted through next season, while manager Paul Heckingbottom has exclusively played with a four-man defence since taking over from Neil Lennon in February. That's before mentioning the holes that need filled around the rest of the team.
But this signing still makes perfect sense. The three centre-backs mentioned above all suffered medium to long-term injuries last term, with defensive midfielder Mark Milligan having to fill in on occasion as a result. In a key area of the pitch, another such run of bad luck could collapse a promising season. It's important to get the required cover and Heckingbottom has done just that.
This is a signing all about trust. The Hibs manager recruited Adam Jackson in the summer of 2016 and worked with him for a year and a half. It's no surprise that the first man he's brought to Leith is a player and personality where he knows exactly what to expect.
Though Jackson would never quite establish himself as a first-team regular at Oakwell, playing just 44 times in three seasons in both the Championship and League One, he remained a fairly popular figure with supporters for his model professionalism. Whenever called upon he would come in, do a job and dutifully take his place on the bench again when it was time to do so.
Last season was the biggest frustration for the player. Having played 22 times in the club's relegation season the year prior, it was expected he'd get more of an opportunity at the League One level. Instead, the centre-backs in front of him both had excellent seasons, including former Partick Thistle stopper Liam Lindsay, meaning Jackson couldn't get a look in. Yet there was no reported disharmony behind the scenes.
Despite his limited playing time, his release was still a little bit of a surprise with supporters worrying if they'd be left short if either Lindsay or defensive partner Ethan Pinnock were sold on. For Jackson it meant having to find his third permanent club to call home.
He came through the ranks at Middlesbrough where he was considered a highly promising talent at one stage, playing regularly for England under-17s alongside current Three Lions stars Jordan Pickford and Raheem Sterling. He would never reach the first-team at the Riverside, though, enduring disappointing loan spells at Halifax Town and Coventry City before Hartlepool took him on loan. It was there that Heckingbottom spotted him and sought to sign him for Barnsley. Now he's done the same at Easter Road.
His skills as a defender lie in his physicality and ability to read the game. During the 2017/18 season, he finished second in the Championship overall for interceptions made per 90 minutes. When you consider how many defenders there are in the English second tier, that's no mean feat. He also communicates well with other defenders and would be another strong mentor for young Porteous to have.
On the face of it this is an insurance purchase. However, he could still push for a starting berth and, at the age of 25, establish himself as a regular at Hibs for longer than his current two-year deal. McGregor will turn 34 in August, Hanlon is coming off his weakest season of the past four years, and Porteous still has a lot to learn. The opportunity is there for Jackson to make a name for himself north of the border.