BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Alan Stubbs has confessed that new signing Marvin Bartley is short of fitness ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Rangers in the Petrofac Training Cup.
The 6’3” ‘midfield enforcer’ joined the Easter Road side on Friday on a two-year deal but was left out of the squad that defeated Dunfermline 2-1 in a friendly just 24 hours later.
Bartley, a former £350,000 Eddie Howe signing for Burnley, was deemed by Stubbs not to be ready for the run-out at East End Park as the 29-year-old bids to reach the fitness standards set by the rest of the Hibs squad.
And Stubbs has revealed the former Leyton Orient and Bournemouth player will this week be putting in extra shifts in an attempt to bring him up to speed.
He said: “He’s a couple of weeks behind everybody. We’ll look to try and get him some extra work, whenever possible.
“We’ll be trying to get him up to speed as quickly as possible – but, obviously, we won’t be rushing him either.”
Stubbs will be seeking to avoid Bartley being struck down with the kind of niggling injuries that have so far kept fellow summer signings James Keatings and Danny Carmichael out of action, as well as the more long-term problems of Farid El Alagui and Martin Boyle.
However, with the likes of Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Stevenson, Liam Fontaine and Mark Oxley having been kept at the club on new deals, the Hibs boss insists he will be content should a familiar-looking outfit kick-off the new season against Rangers on Saturday.
He added: “I would be delighted if that’s the squad that starts the season, there’s a lot of quality in that team and there’s a lot of flexibility as well.
“If that’s what we have to go with, I’ll be more than happy, and it will be more than enough to, certainly, start the season.”