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Joe Newell won’t let Hibernian use their ‘transitional period’ as an excuse

Joe Newell expects Hibernian to flourish (Steve Welsh/PA)
Joe Newell expects Hibernian to flourish (Steve Welsh/PA)

Joe Newell is adamant Hibernian have a squad equipped to flourish once all their new players get to grips with the cinch Premiership.

The Easter Road club have had a major turnover of players over the last couple of transfer windows and are still in the early months of manager Lee Johnson’s reign.

Although they have had a mixed start to the campaign, Newell, one of Hibs’ senior players, is encouraged by the standard of the recent recruits and is confident the team will soon ignite when the new faces are properly integrated.

“I feel like we’re definitely still in a transitional period,” he said. “We’ve got a young team with a lot of new and foreign lads who haven’t played in the league before but we’ve just got to get going.

“We can’t use it as an excuse. I think we’ve got a very good squad this year. I think we’ve improved in terms of the squad. We’ve got some really talented lads now and once they settle and get going, it’s only going to help us.”

Newell expects the recent return of talismanic attacker Martin Boyle following seven months in Saudi Arabia to help set Hibs in the right direction.

“It helps massively having Martin back,” he said. “You could see in the Hearts game the lift the crowd and us as players got having him back.

“He’s a phenomenal player so he’s only going to help any team. He’s done amazingly for Hibs in the last few years. His directness, his pace, his quality, his finishing is something we missed when he left in January so to have him back is brilliant.”

Newell is relishing Saturday’s cinch Premiership visit from Rangers and hopes to enjoy another memorable moment against the Ibrox club after last November’s 3-1 victory in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final.

“The semi-final last year was one of my best moments in football,” said the midfielder. “To be 3-0 up after half an hour or whatever it was, it was a ‘pinch me’ moment. It was amazing.

“Those type of moments are good and the atmosphere in these type of games are the reason you love playing football.”

Rangers are currently in the middle of a Champions League play-off against PSV Eindhoven, with the tie delicately poised at 2-2 ahead of Wednesday’s second leg in the Netherlands.

“I don’t really know what they’ll do team-wise but I’m presuming they might make a few changes because of the game on Wednesday,” Newell said. “They’re still going to have real good quality out there so we have to try and make it uncomfortable for them.

“That’s where the home advantage and the crowd can hopefully make a difference.

“We know in recent history we’ve had a good result against them and there have been a couple of other times when we feel like we deserved more than we have got, so we’re going in full of confidence.”