Paul Heckingbottom only wants players committed to Hibs – and he wants them in quick
Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom is aiming to be ahead of the game by having new signings in place by the time his squad reports back for pre-season training on June 20.
Work on identifying possible targets has been taking place ever since the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager took over from Neil Lennon at Easter Road in February with, he disclosed, “a few options” for each position.
And he warned those players the Capital club are already speaking to not to stall on negotiations or he’ll simply turn to the next player on his list.
Hibs have been linked with moves for Barnsley defender Adam Jackson – who attended the recent derby with Hearts – Carlisle midfielder Jamie Devitt, Coventry right-back Jack Grimmer and teenage Queen’s Park midfielder Michael Ruth in recent days. While he insisted no deals are close to being clinched as yet, Heckingbottom said: “We have spoken to lots and lots and there will be loads of names mentioned. Some will be right and some won’t be – and you’d be gutted if you knew how many you are missing out on. So it is better to keep it like that.”
Heckingbottom, however, doesn’t intend to wait until closer to the August 31 transfer deadline before seeing new arrivals at the club. He said: “It won’t happen, but I would love to have everyone in place by then.
“I have said many a time, if as a coach you see your value in working with players, why would I wait until the end of August, two-and-a-half months after we come back? That’s two-and-a-half months missed and, if you think about it, if you sign them at the end of the window, it will be mid-November before they are at the stage you could have been at the end of August.
“By then the season is halfway through. We are trying to guard against that. At Barnsley, we were signing players in the last week and it was a nightmare. The season was already three or four weeks old and we were still making signings and wondering why we were finding it tough.
“So, yeah, we want to be well ahead and, if we get to a point where players are stalling – and that’s why we’ve got a few options for each position – and it becomes hard work, then we will just get the lad who wants to be in right now, get him and start working with him.”
Heckingbottom admitted he was excited by being in a position he’s never enjoyed before, saying: “I was fire-fighting at Barnsley where the carpet was getting ripped from under you, trying to plug gaps and at Leeds I didn’t have the opportunity to see it through.
“This is the first time really where I have got people working on it. Everything is about improving. You are not going to get them all, but we have put a lot of thought in to it and are really clear in what we are after.
“I am excited to see what we can do, who we can bring in and, looking forward, to getting that first competitive game, the whistle blown and then we are off and running again.”