Hibs net deadline day hat-trick as Mark McNulty joins from Reading, Darnell Johnson arrives from Leicester and Motherwell man Gael Bigirimana checks in, while Australia international Jamie Maclaren links up with Melbourne City

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

HIBS completed a dramatic hat-trick of deadline day signings as Marc McNulty, Gael Bigirimana and Darnell Johnson checked in at Easter Road, with Jamie Maclaren bringing his unhappy second stint at the club to an end by joining Melbourne City.

Former Livingston youngster McNulty has found first-team opportunities hard to come by since a prolific campaign with Coventry earned him a move to the Madejski Stadium last summer, and was keen to return to Scotland.

The 26-year-old has also turned out for Sheffield United, Portsmouth and Bradford and quickly emerged as the Hibees’ prime January target – despite the departure of Neil Lennon.

McNulty was released by the Easter Road outfit at the age of 16 and insists he has unfinished business in the capital.

He said: “I’m definitely coming back a better player for all my experiences south of the border and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had along the way.

“After leaving the club as a 16-year-old, it does feel a bit like unfinished business. Coming back home definitely appealed and Hibs were always my first choice. I like the way the team tries to play football and I like to think I’ll fit right in.”

Speaking to Hibernian’s official website, he added: “As a striker I’m expecting to be judged on the number of goals I score but that’s a pressure I welcome.”

The Hibees also swooped for centre-back Johnson on loan from Leicester following the departure of Efe Ambrose earlier this month and the news that Ryan Porteous would be out for the rest of the season following knee surgery.

The 20-year-old has arrived for the remainder of the campaign, adding: “I know about Hibernian’s reputation for giving young players a chance. I hope I’m the next to make a name for myself.”

Former Newcastle and Rangers midfielder Bigirimana penned a permanent contract until the end of the season after falling out of favour at Motherwell and departing the Fir Park club.

The Burundi internationalist has made 21 appearances this term but last started a game for the Steelmen on December 19, when he was hooked at half-time of a 3-0 hammering by Celtic.

MACLAREN DEPARTS FOR MELBOURNE CITY

Hibs and Maclaren agreed to terminate his season-long stay from Darmstadt, allowing the striker to join A-League outfit Melbourne City, initially on loan before a permanent deal until 2023 kicks in this summer.

Maclaren was a smash hit with the Hibees during the second half of last term, scoring eight goals in 15 appearances and helping the capital club secure a European place. However, he struggled to recapture that form and found the net just once after returning to Easter Road last August.

(Pic: Pete Nowakowski)

Maclaren, who scored once for Australia during the recent Asian Cup, said: “I can’t wait to return to Australia and as a local lad, it’s really exciting to sign for Melbourne City.

“It is an ambitious club with a talented group of players and experienced coaching staff. I’m confident and looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.

“I’m feeling strong after a good Asian Cup experience, but my focus is now on making an impact in the A-League and I’m looking forward to stepping out in front of the City fans to show them what I can do.”

 
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