Recruitment ‘on hold’ for Hibs amid Covid-19 uncertainty, concedes boss Jack Ross

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JACK ROSS admits Hibernian’s recruitment drive will be ‘on hold’ until the financial uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis begins to ease.

The capital club have been linked with a move for free agent Drey Wright, formerly of St Johnstone, while sporting director Graeme Mathie has continued to compile a list of potential summer targets.

Marc McNulty, Stephane Omeonga and Jason Naismith, who were all on loan at Easter Road last term, are open to discussions regarding a return to Edinburgh.

Recruitment: Ross is unlikely to delve into the transfer market in the coming weeks

However, Ross expects Hibs to be quiet in the transfer market in the coming weeks.

While Hibs have been buoyed by supporters snapping up more than 8,000 season tickets for the coming campaign, they are no closer to knowing when fans may be allowed back in stadiums – which has a devastating effect on commercial, hospitality and sponsorship income.

Hibs are also committed to reimbursing their current players before they sign any more stars after staff agreed to a wage deferral scheme in April,

He explained: “Our recruitment is on hold. For those in senior management, the uncertainty still remains over whether fans will return, and when that will be – and the impact that has on what they can do.

“It just adds to that general lack of clarity we have had for a considerable period.

“First and foremost, we will work with the players we have and, if the situation continues to develop in a positive direction, then hopefully clubs will be able to add to that.

“But the priority is just on returning to training and games.”

That return to the grass for Hibs is understood to be slated for the week beginning June 15, with Ross working on the basis that the 2020/21 Premiership season will begin on August 1.

And the former Sunderland, St Mirren and Alloa boss acknowledges that formulating a pre-season schedule amid the coronavirus outbreak has been one of his most challenging tasks in recent weeks.

Ross continued: “It’s not very often that [football managers] work with any sort of uncertainty.

“Ordinarily, we work in a very regimented and structured industry and whenever we do have a rest period, such as the close season, we always know when we are returning.

“I think every coach and manager asked would say creating a pre-season plan has been the biggest challenge. Even at the moment, we still have that complete lack of certainty about when the season will start again.

“If it goes beyond the first of August then it could impact on the work we do when we initially go back but, as a club, we are working on the basis that we’ll start on August the first. It has been challenging and fluid.”

With training due to resume in a phased fashion, Ross will initially oversee smaller sessions, with players safely distanced from each other across their East Mains pitches.
That will be allied with the demands of regular testing and faultless hygiene measures.

ADAPT

However, Ross is confident his players will adapt.

He told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “It will be different, to begin with. I’m fortunate that a lot of responsibility falls to others at the football club, particularly the medical department and those who deal with logistics to make sure we are ready to meet the necessary criteria.

“In terms of things on the pitch, the [smaller] numbers we have to work with and the fact it is non-contact will be unusual.

“At the same time, those types of sessions to occur during a season, whether that’s small groups or players returning from injury. It shouldn’t be too difficult to adjust.”

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