Lee Johnson braced for transfer interest in Hibs players as he outlines summer recruitment plans
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Easter Road boss has made no secret of his desire to see the likes of CJ Egan-Riley and Will Fish in a Hibs shirt again next season but wants to keep as much stability as he can, while adding quality here and there. He also believes there will be interest in his players, and not just in the likes of Kevin Nisbet and Josh Campbell, who have been linked with clubs in the UK and overseas in the last six months.
"A lot of it will be dictated by the loans,” Johnson said, when asked about his summer recruitment plans. “I'd love to have Will Fish and CJ back, as an example; I’d love to pick a team on day one and hardly have to change it until the end of the season and then build, and build, and build again. But clubs like Hibs have their place in the food chain so we have to wait, or we have to be calm, or convince, or pay more and all those things come into it to try to achieve these loans again.
"I also think there will be a lot of interest in our players both in terms of the fringe players, or the ones who perhaps haven't had as many minutes as they might have hoped, but also the stars,” he added.
Johnson’s now-infamous post-derby rant in January after a 3-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle preceded a busy January window with more than ten players leaving, and a focus on bringing in quality rather than quantity, and he has hinted at more of the same this summer. With European games on the horizon, the Easter Road side needs three registered goalkeepers as well as a decent-sized squad, although youngsters could in theory make up numbers on the bench.
"In an ideal world I'd love to keep the core strong, keep the stability, and then add quality in and around the key areas where we think we need additions. I'd rather lower the numbers and have higher quality, and if we've got good young players to supplement the squad, or we can rotate the loans and bring them back and one of them breaks through, then we're all laughing,” Johnson said.
“I would much rather have a smaller squad because it means fewer problems for me! I like an environment where everybody feels like they have a carrot at the end of the week. When I walked through the door, we had seven out injured and a lot of them were key players. A lot of the understudies, or perceived understudies, were starting. You talk about having your money on the pitch but a lot of those players were injured. That left a slightly over-inflated squad, particularly with the narrative that the season before there maybe wasn't enough depth. We were almost slightly diluted in terms of quality but had the depth, and that's fine if everyone's fit. But if not, you're playing those who are trying to take the place of the ones who are ready-made, and that's where you need a bit of luck.”