Transfers and target areas - where Hibs need to strengthen in January

Hanlon (left) and Bushiri have been competing over a starting position.Hanlon (left) and Bushiri have been competing over a starting position.
Hanlon (left) and Bushiri have been competing over a starting position.
Even without Foley cash, Monty will need backing to chase European football

That Hibs need reinforcements heading into the second half of the season is beyond doubt. The only questions surround how grandly they’ll be able and willing to spend in order to give Nick Montgomery’s men the best chance of competing at the business end of the Scottish Premiership.

With the European revenue that goes with finishing third potentially worth in excess of £5 million, and knowing that Martin Boyle, Lewis Miller and Rocky Bushiri could be away on international duty for up to a month, a few bold strokes may be required. And that’s just to stand still.

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It’s looking unlikely that billionaire Bournemouth owner Bill Foley’s investment in the club will be signed off until well into the new year. And the headline figures quoted won’t all be spent on recruitment. If and when the deal is signed off by the SFA, Hibs will still be calling all the shots when it comes to signings.

Casting an educated eye over the current squad and knowing what we do about the new manager’s views on the players at his disposal, it’s clear that he would like to hit the January sales with some intent. So let’s take a look at Monty’s wish list:


On paper, Hibs have three senior central defenders competing for two slots. On paper. In practice, a winning combination has been elusive.

While Will Fish is clearly on a steep learning curve, the on-loan Manchester United centre-half at least appears to be moving in the right direction. There’s a reason why Montgomery wants to keep him not just for the rest of the season, but for the longer term.

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If Fish is a certain starter every week, neither Rocky Bushiri nor club captain Paul Hanlon has been able to pin down a permanent place on the left side of central defence. Both have been given ample opportunity.

Hanlon brings experience, nous and defensive discipline to the role. Bushiri is able to carry the ball out of defence, something that doesn’t come naturally to his veteran team-mate, but has been guilty of some frustrating mental errors leading to opposition goals. And, with Bushiri probably heading to the Africa Cup of Nations, which runs from January 13 until February 12, Hibs will be a body down.

The fact that Riley Harbottle hasn’t played a single minute of competitive football under Montgomery tells you where he fits into the bigger picture. Fine at full-back and boasting one of the best goalies in the league, Hibs are probably one good signing away from having strength in depth at the heart of their back four.


Joe Newell is a stick-on, when fit, and has been captain in the absence of Hanlon. Jimmy Jeggo and Dylan Levitt are in direct competition to fill the other position at the heart of Montgomery’s 4-4-2 formation. Go beyond those three and things get a bit thin.

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Joe Newell has been carrying a heavy load in central midfield.Joe Newell has been carrying a heavy load in central midfield.
Joe Newell has been carrying a heavy load in central midfield.

Josh Campbell has been used as a right winger, striker and even right back more often than he’s played in a midfield two, with the coaching staff clearly feeling that he’s not a perfect fit for that central role. Anyone who saw how flat Hibs were in Perth on Saturday, with Newell suspended, will understand that Monty can’t just keep relying on one guy to make things tick.

What they could really do with is a midfielder who can pick out a killer pass, cover a lot of ground AND score goals. Realistically, getting someone with two out of those three qualities would be like winning the Lottery. On a Rollover week.

On the wings, the return of Jair Tavares has been both joyous and productive. Elie Youan remains a strong option, while Campbell has done a decent job. But Hibs would be significantly strengthened if additions elsewhere allowed Martin Boyle to return to the wide-open spaces where he does his best work …


This is crucial. Boyle is 10 per cent less effective through the middle than he is when starting as a winger, even if Montgomery’s 4-4-2 allows for plenty of movement between the positions.

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Dylan Vente could do with some back-up.Dylan Vente could do with some back-up.
Dylan Vente could do with some back-up.

Christian Doidge has become more of an impact sub of late, leaving Dylan Vente with the only out-and-out centre forward regularly being fielded by Hibs. Things will be better when Adam Le Fondre returns from injury, with the Englishman having begun to develop a really promising partnership with Vente. But there is no firm date on when he’ll be back to full fitness and match sharpness. A ready-to-play striker is top of the list, then.

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