Hibs boss vows to take players to ‘levels of fitness they’ve not known before’
A first day back at East Mains marks the beginning of an intensive seven-week period for Heckingbottom’s squad which was joined by new signings Scott Allan, Adam Jackson and Joe Newell while Martin Boyle and Ryan Porteous, who both required knee surgery which ruled them out of the second half of last season, will be looking to take steps towards a return to action.
While Heckingbottom, his assistant Robbie Stockdale and his backroom staff will set about honing the players’ fitness, the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager will be seeking to further instil his beliefs in the way the game should be played, something he admitted was difficult to do when he first arrived at Easter Road seeking to secure a top-six finish.
The Capital club will play eight matches in July, combining friendlies with Arbroath, Dunfermline, Carlisle United and Newcastle with their Betfred Cup group games against Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath and Elgin City to ensure each player gets sufficient game time. Results in the friendlies, Heckingbottom admitted, will count for little but he believes the standard of opposition in each of them will provide a graduated level of competition. He added: “The Betfred Cup games are important. We want to win all of them. We’ve only got three weeks before they start and then, further down the line, the new league season. We’ll be working hard and looking to swap players about to make sure everyone gets game time.
“We have to stretch the players, take them to levels of fitness they have not known before so we have to push them over the next six and a half to seven weeks.”