Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has eased the defensive crisis he was facing ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Premiership opener against Motherwell by signing experienced stopper Michael Nelson for a nominal fee on the recommendation of his assistant Jimmy Nicholl.
Fenlon moved for the 33-year-old after injury and suspension ruled out captain James McPake, Tim Clancy, Ryan McGivern, Jordon Forster and Bradley Donaldson, leaving Paul Hanlon as the only recognised centre-half at his disposal.
Nelson became his latest summer arrival after agreeing a two-year deal to make the switch from League One side Bradford City, whom he only joined in January this year.
Now the 6ft 2in star is poised to make an immediate debut as Fenlon’s players bid to overcome the misery of their Europa League mauling at the hands of Swedish side Malmo by getting their domestic season off to a flyer.
Fenlon outlined the qualities he believes Nelson, who won the League Cup during a year-long spell with Kilmarnock when Nicholl was No.2 to Kenny Shiels, will bring to Easter Road – size, physicality, experience and leadership.
He said: “Michael is a quality defender, who knows the league well and we’re really pleased to be able to add him to the squad. His experience will also help the younger players around him. We believe Michael will bring four qualities to the team – size, physicality, experience and leadership and those attributes will add further strength to our squad for the start of the new season.”
Nelson admitted he jumped at the chance to return to Scotland saying: “I’m delighted to sign for Hibs, It’s a great move for me and I can’t wait to get started back playing in the Scottish Premiership.
“The move came around pretty quickly, but as soon as the initial contact was made, I was keen to get the deal done. I’m really excited about helping the team to succeed this season.
“I knew Jimmy Nichol before from my time at Kilmarnock and enjoyed working with him. I was also impressed with what the manager had to say about what he wants to achieve here at Hibs and I’m excited about being a part of it.”
Meanwhile, Fenlon has insisted he never gave quitting a second’s thought in the wake of that Malmo humiliation, the Irishman revealing he’s subjected himself to watching a DVD of the match five times as he seeks to ensure there is never a repeat of what he admitted was an “embarrassing” night for everyone connected with the club.
Speaking for the first time since that night, a 9-0 aggregate score over the two legs a record margin of defeat for a Scottish club in Europe, Fenlon said: “I look at things and I roll up my sleeves and I say that I will not be defeated and that I will get things right.
“As a player and a manager I have never thrown the tools down or packed it in. This is all about how we take the club forward, about getting things right for the club – it’s not about me.”