Three free agent defenders Hibs could target - Ex-Norwich stalwart, Scottish Cup winner, former Manchester United man
Hibs manager Lee Johnson dropped a hint on Tuesday night after his side’s 1-1 draw with Ross County that he could turn to the free-agent market to bolster his squad.
The Easter Road side was in the market for an experienced centre-back but exited the window having just brought in 20-year-old Burnley defender CJ Egan-Riley as well as midfielder Jimmy Jeggo and USA international striker Matthew Hoppe and if Hibs suffer any injuries to their central defenders they could be struggling for alternatives.
If Johnson does turn to the free-agent market, here are three possible options for Hibs…
Timm Klose – last club Bristol City
At first glance the former Swiss internationalist would appear to tick all of Hibs’ boxes and is also match-ready having just been released by the Robins on transfer deadline day.
At 34 he has plenty of experience and has played in the Bundesliga, the English Premier League, the Swiss Super League, and the English Championship and can count Basel, Norwich, Nurnberg, Thun, and Wolfsburg among his clubs.
At Carrow Road he was the club’s PFA representative and a popular figure with fans and in the dressing room. Could Hibs chief executive Ben Kensell’s Canaries links provide the groundwork for a move north?
Niklas Gunnarsson – last club Strømsgodset
Gunnarsson arrived at Hibs in January 2016 on loan from Vålerenga and played 15 times in all competitions, scoring twice. He came on as a substitute in the Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers before returning to Oslo in the summer. He then joined Djurgårdens IF, playing 63 times for the Stockholm-based club and winning the Swedish Cup in 2017/18. An ill-fated moved to Palermo in March 2019 resulted in him being released four months later as the club were excluded from the Italian league for breaching company law. He moved to Sarpsborg 08 in September 2019 before returning to Norway with Strømsgodset in February 2020. He played 74 times before leaving the club at the start of January.
At 31, Gunnarsson has experience and has played in the Norwegian and Swedish top flights. He knows Hibs, he knows Scottish football, his wages probably wouldn’t be outrageous and a deal until the end of the season might suit both parties, even if just primarily as cover.
Tyler Blackett – last club FC Cincinnati
Another player with experience of Scottish football, Blackett began his career with Manchester United and had loan spells with Blackpool and Birmingham in England before a season-long loan with Celtic during the 2015/16 season, although he played just eight times in all competitions for the Hoops.
He left Old Trafford for Reading, later playing for Nottingham Forest and FC Cincinnati in MLS. Predominantly a left-back, he can also operate as a left-sided centre-back, which aside from club captain Paul Hanlon is something Hibs haven’t had since Liam Fontaine was on the Easter Road books.
Blackett left Ohio at the start of January and while there was strong interest in the 28-year-old from Wigan, the arrival of new manager Shaun Maloney changed plans and he remains without a club. While he might be out of Hibs’ price range, the chance to put himself in the shop window between now and the summer could appeal if no other offers are forthcoming.