Hibs boss Jack Ross glad to have more options ahead of Stoke friendly
Hibs head coach Jack Ross is relieved to have added some more bodies to the squad training in Cheshire ahead of Friday’s friendly against Stoke City.
Defender Josh Doig and versatile midfielder Melker Hallberg have both joined up with their team-mates at the club’ pre-season training camp and have a chance of featuring against the Potters in the closed-doors game, while those who were restricted to second-half run-outs in the 1-0 defeat by Accrington Stanley on Tuesday could also get more gametime against Michael O’Neill’s side such as Kevin Nisbet, Martin Boyle, and Jamie Murphy, who all came on for the last 30 minutes against John Coleman’s League One outfit.
“It’s nice to see them first and foremost, because we’ve not seen them for a while now,” Ross said, when asked about last season’s Young Player of the Year and the affable Swede linking up again with their team-mates for the first time during the pre-season programme.
"I think they’re delighted to get out of the house and we’ll see how they look over the course of tomorrow and whether we can involve them on Friday or not because they’re going to have to catch up pretty quickly to be ready for the games we’ve got lying ahead.
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"Both are naturally fit players in any case and I think they’ve looked after themselves during the close season, but it’s nice to see them, from a personal view, and professionally it strengthens the options we have within the group as well.”
Hibs have been training hard in Cheshire but will make the short trip to North Staffordshire to take on the Championship side before returning to Scotland ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Arsenal and Friday’s trip to Fife to face Raith Rovers for Iain Davidson’s testimonial match at Stark’s Park on Friday, July 16.
Potters boss O’Neill spent three seasons at Easter Road in the Nineties, scoring 24 goals in 113 games in green and white. He believes Friday’s meeting will be a “good test” for his players
He said: “I think the game tomorrow you’d ideally want to be game three of your pre-season but Hibs are in Manchester preparing for a European tie and it's a good opportunity for us to play decent opposition.
“They will be ahead of us in terms of their preparation by ten days or two weeks but it will be a good test.”
The former Northern Ireland boss is planning on giving most of his players at least 45 minutes of gametime against Hibs, while there could be debuts for new signings Ben Wilmot, Mario Vrančić, and Jack Bonham.
There are a few recognisable faces in the Stoke ranks, including former Easter Road favourite and League Cup-winner Steven Fletcher, and Martin Boyle’s international team-mate Harry Souttar while James McClean and Joe Allen have 80 caps and 63 caps respectively for the Republic of Ireland and Wales.
The match will be played at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium and is the Potters’ first pre-season action before they head to Northern Ireland for a training camp.