What Scott Allan's loan departure may mean for the other Hibs midfielders
Scott Allan’s departure on loan to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the weekend was met with surprise from some sections of the Hibs support, but the playmaker’s desire to be playing games and getting back up to scratch is understandable.
The current coronavirus protocols make it difficult for clubs to arrange bounce matches as easily as they could pre-pandemic and with the 29-year-old having missed a large chunk of action this season, it makes sense for him to go and get game-time at a team playing without the pressures of chasing third and European football.
Allan is the seventh Easter Road midfielder to leave on loan, but his departure frees up a spot on the bench for the remaining five games of the season – and there are Scottish Cup games on the horizon too.
The first-choice midfielders
As things stand, with all players fit and available, Jackson Irvine and Joe Newell are first picks in the middle of the park with Alex Gogic there or thereabouts as well depending on the exact formation on which Jack Ross has settled.
Gogic, Irvine, and Newell fit into the preferred gameplan as they can play as a flat midfield three; as one holding plus two central, and two central plus one number ten if required. With Ross seemingly preferring a 3-4-1-2 / 3-5-2 formation, he is unlikely to deviate from this for the last few games.
Should one of the first-choice three drop out then the versatile Melker Hallberg is able to slot in to whichever role has been left vacant.
The impact from the bench
Kyle Magennis has had a frustrating season since signing on transfer deadline day in August with a string of niggly injuries but he is now fit and represents a good option from the bench. In his fleeting appearances he has shown a willingness to drive the team forward and could be an important player over the remaining games if Ross needs a player to help turn a game in Hibs’ favour.
Hallberg, as mentioned, can fulfil a number of roles, while Drey Wright’s ability to play on the wing or centrally means he is another good squad player to have on the books. These players may not have had much game-time recently, but they are only an injury or a suspension away from a starting berth.
Who stands to benefit?
With Allan out on loan, there is a space needing filled on the bench for Scottish Premiership matches: step forward Stevie Bradley.
The young winger has played just eight minutes of league football this term – in the 4-0 win against Hamilton in December – but he nearly scored at the death, and trains with the first-team squad at East Mains.
If Hibs can get third place sewn up early doors the young winger could get more exposure in the final few games of the season. Fast, direct, and with a trick or two up his sleeve he could well be handed further opportunities to experience first-team football.
Next season may be Bradley’s breakthrough campaign, but there have been glimpses of the winger’s talents this year – and we know Ross isn’t afraid to trust youngsters in the first team.