Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has defended his decision to take his squad to the south of Spain for pre-season training when he has the club’s £5 million complex at East Mains at his disposal
The Easter Road outfit’s week-long stay in La Manga, where they also prepared for last season’s play-off matches against Rangers, has provoked a debate on fans’ message boards with some questioning the expense.
But Stubbs insists training sessions carefully crafted to take into account the searing heat – with Craig Flannigan, head of sports science and fitness, monitoring the players heart-rates in “real time” via his laptop – will play a key part in their preparations for the coming season. And he was equally adamant the Spanish training camp, also being used by Championship rivals Queen of the South and English League One outfit Wigan Athletic, will have no impact on his budget as he continues to put the finishing touches to his squad, goalkeeper Antonio Reguero having become the latest recruit.
The head coach told the Evening News: “The club are very supportive in giving us the best opportunity to be ready for the season and any manager at a big club would do it.
“East Mains is a great facility, but we have to keep the players switched on because pre-season can be a long time. We have to keep them fresh in their minds and a change of scenery is perfect. It breaks everything up, and gives us a bit of flexibility.
“Mentally, it can be hard when you are coming in every day for pre-season thinking ‘what have we got today?. Another hard day?’. When you have got them fresh in the mind, you are able to get more of a workload in.
“The sun, a different bit of scenery can take their minds of it and I would argue every club I go to whether it is here now or somewhere else in the future I will go a pre-season abroad because I know myself as a player the benefits are so great.
“An important point is that if we were not able to go or afford it, we would not be here. It’s not as if we are doing something untoward. The club have been very supportive. If it was a ‘no’, it was a ‘no’.
“But I had to ask the question as the manager, as a coach, is there the possibility that we can go away and the fact they have allowed us to go is fantastic for our preparations for the beginning of the season.
“The budget is separate to everything we are doing here. The budget is very well put together, it’s competitive. Any manager would always want more. I am the same, you are always wanting to push the boundaries but we have a good understanding.”
As for the training sessions themselves, Stubbs said: “Basically, what it does is just maximises the intensity we are working in.
“The sessions themselves will be taxing for the players, but the fact they are having to work even harder in the heat just takes the sessions up to their maximum level. We have to be conscious of that, but the heart-rates and the data we are getting is really good.”
Hibs will wrap up their La Manga visit with a closed-doors match against Wigan, now bossed by former Easter Road skipper Gary Caldwell, on Saturday night.