Hibs boss Johnson plans to trim squad before finding Boyle replacement

The Easter Road talisman's season is over already but his manager admits there is work to be done before the squad can be bolstered.

Hibs boss Lee Johnson plans to trim squad before searching for Martin Boyle replacement SNS Group

Hibernian boss Lee Johnson plans to trim the size of the Easter Road squad before adding any new signings in January.

The Leith outfit recruited 14 new players in the summer, which has bloated the size of the player pool to 28.

Striker Kevin NIsbet has made tentative steps towards a first team return with a 45-minute run out against Middlesbrough in a mid-season friendly.

However, star winger Martin Boyle saw his season ended prematurely and his World Cup dreams shattered by an ACL injury discovered during surgery on a cartilage issue and defender Ryan Porteous could leave in January after it was revealed he would not be signing a new contract at the club.

But Johnson insists his priority remains offloading fringe players to create a more slimmed down version of his squad in a bid to arrest a dire run of form which has seen the club win just one of their last seven.

“With two thirds of the season to play, and a very important cup opportunity, we have that laser focus on that prime 14, 15 players and getting the best out of those,” he said.

“We believe in the ones we’ve got – get them physically right and make them feel a million dollars.”

He added: “The first thing we need to do is trim the squad. We’ve got far too many players at the club and far too many players who I don’t see as infiltrating the first team over the short to medium term.”

The Easter Road side restart their domestic campaign with a tough run of fixtures that includes away trips to Rangers and Hearts either side of home meetings with Livingston and Celtic.

Boyle has failed to find the net since the win over Ross County in October but Johnson admitted his absence would be keenly felt.

He said: “We can do our best to replace Martin but he is one of our stellar signings. If this was the MLS he would be our “marquee” player. 

“We just can’t cope in terms of maximising ourselves without our best players fit. Every team, everywhere in the land gets injuries but if you are lucky it’s not to your best players.

“That bit has been disappointing but at the same time it gives other players opportunities.”

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