Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom insists kids will get chance to shine in streamlined set-up


HIBERNIAN will not be offering deals to either Bristol City midfielder Jonny Smith or Chinese Taipei international Will Donkin.

The duo both featured as trialists for the Hibees as they were defeated 2-1 by Newcastle United’s under-23 side on Monday, with midfielder Smith even finding the net.

However, it is understood that the capital club were simply allowing Smith to utilise their training facilities and feature in the friendly as a courtesy.

Head coach Paul Heckingbottom enjoys a positive relationship with Ashton Gate gaffer Lee Johnson and threw open the doors of their East Lothian training centre as a favour.

Smith has now returned south of the border as Hibs’ hunt for midfield reinforcements continues.

However, Donkin will not be the answer in the middle of the park after the capital club decided against offering him a contract.

The 18-year-old playmaker emerged through the youth ranks at Barnet and Chelsea, but was most recently on the books of Crystal Palace.

Donkin, who is affectionally known as ‘Doughnut Boy’ due to the way his surname translates into Mandarin, boasts 13 caps for Chinese Taipei [Taiwan] after qualifying to represent the Asian nation due to his mother.

Meanwhile, Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom insists opportunity will knock for the youngsters at Easter Road this season as he prepares to attack the campaign with a streamlined squad.

He remains desperate to sign a combative midfielder after missing out on the capture of Funso Ojo to Aberdeen – but is not planning many more forays into the transfer market.

Heckingbottom has no qualms about turning to the club’s talented teens in order to fill in when injuries and suspensions kick in.

Hibs fielded Josh Campbell – for his maiden competitive start – and Fraser Murray against Stirling on Saturday, while the likes of Sean Mackie, Josh Doig, Ben Stirling and Oli Shaw have been utilised in pre-season.

Heckingbottom said: “We are not going to carry big numbers this season and, central midfield aside, we are happy with the squad.

“So players in the development group are going to get a really good opportunity to play for us at some point this season, whether that is through suspension, injury or loss of form.

“They will certainly be training with us regularly and if they are next in line then I’ll put them in the team.”

Campbell, in particular, has turned in some promising performances during pre-season and Heckingbottom was delighted to see him bring energy and desire to an otherwise underwhelming 1-1 draw at Forthbank – albeit Hibs won on penalties.

And, while the search goes on for reinforcements, Heckingbottom has urged the 19-year-old to stake his claim.

Heckingbottom said: “Josh is doing well, he’s a competitive player.

“We need to strengthen in that area but, while we are in this position, it’s an opportunity for people like Josh to show what they are about and get some experience.

“He still has work to do – but he has big attributes that he needs to learn how to impose on the game.

“He is high-energy, will compete and get about the pitch. If he can make an imprint on the play by working to his strengths then he can stake his claim while working on other parts of his game.”