By: Hibernian Media on 06 Jan, 2019 15:31
Hibernian are stepping up preparations for the second half of the season with a winter training camp in Dubai.
Taking advantage of the climate and plush training facilities at the Dubai English Speaking School, Head Coach Neil Lennon put his squad through their paces to kick off a week of hard graft.
Head of Football Operations George Craig explained the thinking behind the decision to head for sunnier climes.
George, talk us through the thought process in taking the players to Dubai.
It was a great opportunity to get the players and staff away as a group. The weather is perfect and gives us the opportunity to work through the day to a schedule without having to worry about altering it to suit the conditions. I’ve said often enough how fortunate we are to have the fantastic training facilities we do have at the Hibernian Training Centre and we took the decision to stay there in the summer. The sun at least has a chance of shining in Scotland in July. The winter shutdown presents an opportunity to take the boys somewhere where we know we can count on the weather and get quality sessions in. We train in Scotland to play in Scotland, but to go into detail with the stuff Neil wants to get across this week there’s no doubt it’s easier when you can have a conversation without having to dodge the rain and wind.
Looking at the packed schedule it’s obviously not much of a ‘break’…
Everyone is here to work hard. The work we do over the next week will have a big influence in how we start the second half of the season. No-one is here to mess about. Every member of staff has been given the opportunity to give their input on how we can get the most out of this trip. No stone has been left unturned.
Off the training pitch there’s also a lot of work going on with the transfer window now open.
I like to think the supporters know the way we work by now that we don’t offer up knee-jerk reactions. We have what I think is a robust player identification and recruitment structure in place at HTC. That’s a process that never stops. I appreciate there has been some disappointments – not least someone like Martin Boyle going from the high of being named in the Australian squad for the Asian Cup to being ruled out of action. That’s one area we weren’t anticipating having to move on, but we knew there was a possibility that we would have to recruit in other areas of the team. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t planning for that eventuality. We have a month to bring people in, to bolster the squad and set us up for the second half of the season. I’m confident we’ll be in good shape come the end of the transfer window. It’s important to be as strong as you can by the end of the month. It’s not always about signing right now but when it’s right. We’ll never sign someone for the sake of it and sometimes if it’s a case of holding out for the people we really want then we’ll do that rather than compromise on quality.
Sean Mackie is the latest Academy graduate to have caught the eye. As someone so embedded in that side of the club, it must give you great satisfaction to see his progress.
The development of the young players is something that can often be overlooked but it’s something we take real pride in. When we put the new structure in place, we said from Day One that we were committed to producing our own players again and we’re starting to see the results of that. We don’t just want them to make up the numbers. We want them to make a telling contribution. We obviously had high hopes for Ryan Porteous, Oli Shaw has scored goals and it’s great to see Fraser Murray back out on the grass. He is someone we have a lot of faith in. Sean Mackie, Lewis Allan and Jamie Gullan have all had a taste and I think it’s terrific. We make a significant investment in the Academy and I think it’s a sound one.