Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom reckons Josh Vela with be ‘worth the wait’ as ex-Bolton midfielder becomes seventh summer signing


PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM insists Hibs’ persistence paid off after beating a host of suitors to the signature of combative midfielder Josh Vela.

The former Bolton favourite has penned a three-year deal with the Easter Road outfit after leaving the cash-strapped Trotters at the end of last season.

Vela, 25, becomes the Hibees seventh summer signing and, providing international clearance is received in time, could make his home debut against Alloa Athletic on Saturday.

Heckingbottom has been searching for reinforcements in the middle of the park ever since Marvin Bartley, Mark Milligan and loan star Stephane Omeonga departed the club.

Their protracted chase for Funso Ojo proved ill-fated in the end, with the player joining Aberdeen instead.

However, the Englishman reckons that playing the long game has paid dividends with Vela.

Heckingbottom said: “Josh was worth the wait and I’m glad we were patient in order to land him.

“He will add energy and a competitive edge to our midfield.

“Josh is an all-round midfielder with the athleticism to support attacks and play on the front foot, helping us win the ball back.”

Vela, a former Bolton teammate of fellow Hibs new-boy Christian Doidge, spent 17 years with the Trotters after emerging through their youth system.

He made 182 appearances for the club and also gained EFL experience during a brief loan stint with Notts County in 2014.

However, he fell out of favour under boss Phil Parkinson at the tail end of last season and did not feature for Bolton after February – leaving him powerless to stop them from crashing to relegation from the Championship.

And Vela is relishing the prospect of a ‘new challenge’ following a forgettable campaign.

He told Hibernian’s official website: “Hibs were persistent when I had offers from other teams and that played a big part in me coming here.

“Every player wants to feel wanted and I was really impressed with everything that I heard, then what I saw when I came for a look myself.

“The manager went into real detail about he wants from me – as a person and tactically – and I feel like I can help him achieve what he wants to do with the club.

“It’s exciting. It’s a new challenge for me after spending so long at one club, in a new environment and I’m just looking forward to getting started with the rest of the boys.”