This was always going to be a tough season of transition for Hibs, but hopefully we can do some good business in the last couple of weeks of the window and give ourselves a good chance of finishing the campaign strongly.
Getting Ryan Gauld in is clearly a good start because a quality creative player in the middle of the pitch should improve us. He’s a talented young boy who’s picked up some good experience so hopefully he can give us a bit of guile and craft in the midfield to help us climb the league.
We’re still lacking in certain areas, especially after losing both Martin Boyle and Efe Ambrose. The injury to Boyle in particular is a massive blow because he gives us something different in attack and is the one player who can get us up the pitch quickly. He is one of our main threats and has been a key player for us over the past two years, so he’ll be tough to replace. Ambrose has been a really good player for us as well and added experience to our defence so he’ll also be a miss.
We’ve got to look at getting quality over quantity in this window. It’s all very well getting plenty players in but the key thing is that we get quality players in to replace the ones we’ve lost both last summer and over the past few weeks. It would be unrealistic to expect us to be able to go out and find ready-made replacements for players of the quality of John McGinn, Dylan McGeouch or Ambrose, but somehow you’ve got to try and find a way of ensuring that losing these players doesn’t derail your progress. I’m encouraged by the calibre of players we seem to be getting linked with. Lewis Morgan, Jason Cummings, Scott Allan and Craig Bryson would all be good additions but there’s a big difference between being interested in players and actually getting them in the door. It’s good to see that we are looking at players of that quality because that’s definitely what we need.
Having said that, I think we’ve got some fairly new players at the club who are still trying to find their feet so hopefully we’ll see the best of them after the break. Stevie Mallan and Daryl Horgan, for instance, have showed in glimpses what they’re capable of but we need more consistency from them after the break.
We also have to factor in the number of players we’ve been missing through injury because that hasn’t helped anybody. I think we’ve got a few players at the club who will come good and we’ve also got some key men like Paul Hanlon and David Gray who are hopefully now going to get a proper run of games after their injury problems in the first half of the season. Those are two of our most experienced defenders and they haven’t been able to get a consistent run of games so far. Ryan Porteous has done brilliantly so far but he’s only 19 so we can’t rely on him at this stage in his development to be our main defender. We need the likes of Gray and Hanlon to remain fit so we can get our solidity back because we’ve not really had that this season. It will make a big difference if the manager can start picking a more settled side after the break because there’s definitely still plenty talent in this squad. I’m quite confident that if we can bed our new players in quickly and have better fortune with injuries, we’ll start moving up the table.
Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie against Elgin City looks like a good chance to get a positive result under our belts and get some confidence into the players. The most important thing is obviously just to make sure we get into the next round but it would be nice if we could do it fairly comfortably and with a wee bit of style.
Ideally you wouldn’t want to have a three-week break after a derby defeat but I think this period will have been good for Hibs in terms of allowing us a chance to regroup, refresh the squad and get some of our injured players fit again. There’s still plenty time left in the season to ensure we significantly improve our league position and I still fully believe we’ve got the capability to do that.