Terry Butcher today warned Hibs fans not to expect a flood of new players to arrive during the January transfer window as he offers his current squad the chance to prove they have a long-term future at Easter Road.
Butcher has already admitted to being pleasantly surprised at the quality he inherited from his predecessor Pat Fenlon and, having seen the team avoid defeat in his first three matches in charge, he believes they are “more resolute, more resilient and harder to beat” than both he and his assistant Maurice Malpas originally believed.
But while change is inevitable as Butcher makes his mark, the new Hibs boss insisted he’s in no great rush to make changes.
He said: “Steve [Marsella, Hibs’ scout] is looking at players and it’s amazing, now that we have moved to Hibs, the number of agents that ring him up. Everybody wants to play for Hibs. It’s amazing, but he is of the same opinion as me. We are looking at the players here first to see how they do and how they adapt to our ways and our style and see if they can put up a strong case for their inclusion in the team and the squad in the future.
“It’s only three weeks until January now and the window opens. Everybody is expecting a flood of players coming in, but that won’t be the case. There will be some here that come on the journey with us and some who won’t.
“If a few leave, then a few more might come in, but we will wait and see. I’m very open-minded about it because we have had a good response from the players here. They are giving us everything in training and in games and that’s good.”
Hibs will face their severest test since Butcher arrived a month ago when they face Celtic in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday, but while he admits they are “going into the lion’s den”, he insisted there was no fear, while accepting his players will have to show even more resilience this time round.
He said: “We want to be prepared for any challenge Celtic throw at us, combat that and then see how we go. It would be very brave to really have a go at Celtic and the team we have is the lowest scoring in the Premiership.
“From that point of view, I don’t think we have the type of team who have the experience of having a go and slaughtering a team like Celtic. Against Celtic, you have to be a bit tight.”
Meanwhile, James McPake’s back operation went well, the 29-year-old having phoned physio Dave Henderson to give the update on the surgery. McPake had “shock absorbers” inserted in a bid to cure the recurring problem which has bothered him ever since he fractured bones in his spine while playing for Coventry almost three years ago.
Butcher said: “I’m not too sure what the exact procedure was, but it was quite an intricate operation. There’s no prognosis on the actual timescale, but you are looking at February or March, something like that. Whether he does well at his rehabilitation and that timescale gets less, we’ll have to wait and see. Backs are a funny area, where you can’t exactly say for certain what’s going to happen.
“He is confident of getting back and it will be lovely to see him back, fully fit and raring to go.”
• HIBS went top of the SPFL Under-20 league table last night after thrashing Ross County 5-0 at Livingston’s Energy Assets Arena. Jason Cummings scored his 27th goal for the side, while Tom Gardiner and Sam Stanton also chipped in with doubles. Senior players Sean Murdoch, Michael Nelson and Tom Taiwo all got a run-out.
Hibs team: Murdoch, Black, Baptie, Taiwo, Gardiner, Nelson, Smith (Hendry 82), Stanton, Cummings, Caldwell, Todd (Beaton 82). Unused subs: Perntreou, Dunsmore, Wilson, Martyniuk, Sinclair.