Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs today insisted Mark Oxley had always been his No.1 target despite admitting he’d “had a few irons in the fire” in his search for a goalkeeper.
Oxley, who spent last season on loan at Easter Road from Hull City, signed a contract for two years, ending speculation linking former Hibs keeper Ben Williams and ex-Dundee United and Celtic stopper Lukasz Zaluska with moves to Hibs.
The news 25-year-old Oxley had agreed a contract came some six weeks after Hibs’ promotion hopes had come to an end, a period in which the club was without a goalkeeper with both Tomas Cerny and Kleton Perntreou having been released.
Today, however, Stubbs claimed he had felt “quite comfortable” about the situation while conceding it as “an important position to fill”, revealing it was only a matter of time in hammering out a deal with Oxley. He said: “We had a few irons in the fire but Mark was always the No.1 as far as I was concerned. It was just a matter of trying to get close on a deal, to get it across the line. It was verbally agreed on Thursday night, Friday morning and I was delighted once Mark agreed to sign.”
Oxely became the sixth member of last season’s squad to extend his stay at Easter Road with new captain David Gray, defenders Liam Fontaine and Lewis Stevenson, midfielder Fraser Fyvie and forward Martin Boyle all putting pen to paper on new contracts. And Stubbs believes the close bond which his players enjoy was a big factor when it came to persuading them to spurn offers from elsewhere.
But, while Scott Allan remains under contract, speculation linking the Championship’s player of the year with moves elsewhere continues with Ipswich Town being the latest club to be linked with a move for the midfielder with Rangers and Celtic already very much in the frame although Stubbs was adamant there have been no offers from any quarters for the former Dundee United and West Brom star.
Ibrox vice-chairman Paul Murray added to the speculation by openly admitting to being an admirer of lifelong Rangers fan Allan. While warning that, as Allan was under contract, he could not talk about him in too much detail, Murray went on to enthuse about the player, saying the 23-year-old’s profile was “right,” a young player with a lot of potential.
Stubbs, however, was less then impressed by Murray’s intervention saying: “I do not think it’s the right thing to do. I would not do it but obviously everyone is entitled to do or say what they want. But it’s now what I would do. That’s all you are going to get from me on that.”