Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today insisted he’s intent on bringing players desperate for success – rather than hungry for money – to Easter Road.
Stubbs is well aware of a growing unease among supporters at the lack of signings, with the Capital club having released 14 players immediately after relegation to the Championship, that number growing to 16 as deals were struck for striker James Collins and Ryan McGivern to join Shrewsbury and Port Vale respectively.
But, with the clock ticking down to the start of the new season, the new head coach remains adamant he won’t be rushed into bringing new faces to bolster his threadbare squad of just 14 first-team players, who’ll make their first public outing against Vale of Leithen today.
Claiming it would have been easy for him to have unveiled “ten new arrivals” by this stage, Stubbs revealed he’s closing in on making his first signings while unwilling to disclose names until pen has been put to paper.
He said: “We are starting to make inroads. As you can imagine, we’ve had lots of players thrown at us, some of them not necessarily ones we’d want to pursue but some of them, yes, we have been.
“We are now in the process of eliminating the ones that we do not want and those we are interested in and seeing whether they’re interested or whether we need to do a little more work in making an offer. It’s difficult to say ‘we’ll have five in by next Friday’ because football doesn’t work like that. They could be on their way up but agents are still active, speaking to other clubs looking for better deals. So we’ve got to make sure when they get here we make them buy into what we want to do and where we want to go.”
Stubbs added: “We’ve got figures in mind for what we want to pay for players but the most important thing is to get away from the money side and think of players that are hungry.
“We want to bring in players that are hungry to be successful rather than players who are hungry to take money. We want players who are prepared to roll up their sleeves, give 100 per cent commitment and desire, who will embrace what we are trying to build at the training ground which is a togetherness and a winning mentality.
“Yes, I want players to be here, but I’m not going to rush into making mistakes. It would have been very easy for me to bring in ten players, but they wouldn’t necessarily be the right players. I will always err on the side of quality rather than quantity. And, if that means bringing in one quality player instead of two or three numbers, then I’ll bring in the quality because I know what we’re going to get from that.
“I haven’t settled on a number I want. I have a figure in mind that I would like to work with this season, but I may start the season with one or two less than that. But that’s not a problem because I’ll have a squad I’m happy with. The most important thing is that come August 9 we will have a team that I’ll be happy with when we start the first game of the season.”
Meanwhile, Hibs defender Paul Hanlon insisted he never gave quitting Easter Road a second thought as he sat, totally helpless having undergone knee surgery, watching the club he’s supported all his life slide out of the Premiership.
Hanlon didn’t feature from mid-March onwards, missing the final ten games of the season including the traumatic play-off defeat to Hamilton, a situation which he admitted had left him “devastated.”
But, while some of those still under contract were told by former boss Terry Butcher they were free to leave if they could find another club, Hanlon was adamant he wasn’t among that number, his full concentration having been on regaining full fitness.
The former Scotland Under-21 captain, who still has two years of his current deal to run, said: “Hibs are my club so I was devastated when we were relegated. It was horrible sitting in the stand watching but powerless to do anything about it.
“But my focus was on making sure I was 100 per cent for pre-season training. We’re looking to get promoted right away but there’s a lot of big clubs in the league so we have to concentrate on getting off to a good start.”