Lee Johnson hints that Hibs could dip into free-agent market to bolster squad

Lee Johnson has admitted Hibs could dip into the free-agent market in a bid to bolster their squad following the closure of the January transfer window.

Hibs moved on eleven players either permanently or on a temporary basis and brought in three – midfielder Jimmy Jeggo, versatile defender CJ Egan-Riley, and USA international striker Matthew Hoppe.

But despite an intensive search for an experienced centre-back following injury to Rocky Bushiri and Ryan Porteous leaving for Watford, the Easter Road side didn’t add to the backline on deadline day after Egan-Riley’s arrival from Burnley on Monday.

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Asked after the 1-1 draw with Ross County on Tuesday night if Hibs were done in the transfer market, Johnson said: “I think probably, but I don’t know. There’s also the out-of-contract market but I haven’t spoken to Ben [Kensell, chief executive] or anybody else at this point.”

Lee Johnson hinted that Hibs might turn to the free-agent market
Lee Johnson hinted that Hibs might turn to the free-agent market
Lee Johnson hinted that Hibs might turn to the free-agent market

There are plenty of free agents out there who might fit the bill, but the current state of play with Hibs regarding the planned appointment of a director of football may throw a spanner in the works. Apart from Jeggo, who signed an 18-month contract, Egan-Riley and Hoppe are short-term loans until the end of the season. There are no options to buy either player which has been a staple of recent loan deals such as that of Élie Youan in the summer or Ewan Henderson last January.

But Hibs are not well stocked in central defence, with just three senior centre-backs in Egan-Riley, Will Fish, and Paul Hanlon and with the latter struggling with injuries already this season, turning to the free-agent market may be a necessity.