Thornton Hibs can handle step up to East Superleague, insists Gilbert

Thornton Hibs players celebrate goal
Thornton Hibs players celebrate goal

Thornton Hibs boss Craig Gilbert believes they can deal with the step up in quality to the revamped East Superleague.

Hibs finished outside the automatic promotion spots last year, finishing sixth in the East Premier League.

However, they gained promotion to the top flight this season after a mass exodus from the juniors forced league reconstruction.

The 24 clubs who left have paved the way for the likes of Thornton and neighbours Glenrothes to fill the void in the Superleague.

And Gilbert insists they certainly won’t feel overawed by the quality of opposition they will face this season.

Gilbert told the Gazette: “It’s the same as last year, we are looking to stay up.

“We went on a ten-game unbeaten run last season, it was fantastic but we hit a blip.

“If we could have kept that going then we might have made the promotion spots anyway, we were not that far off in the end.

“We beat the teams above us but just slipped up against the ones below.

“We won’t win the Superleague but we can compete with the better sides and, if we win enough, we can get mid-table. We certainly don’t fear anybody.”

Hibs have kept the bulk of the squad which performed well last season and they have added midfielder Scott Orrock from St Andrews United and left-sided defender Iain Millar from Lochgelly Albert.

Gilbert is pleased with the acquisitions and also revealed that striker Nathan Feeley has re-signed for Hibs.

He said: “We’ve kept 95 per cent of the squad signed up for this season and we have added Scott Orrock and Iain Millar.

“They were both out of contract and knew a couple of boys in the squad so it’s good to get them in.

“They will provide a bit of stability and more experience.

“They are both 29 and will help the younger boys in the team.

“Nathan Feeley has also returned, I signed him this week.

“We might look to bring one more in but that will give us 18 or 19 in the squad.

“The under 19s have been training with us so you’re hoping that one or two of them can step up but it is very difficult.

“The Juniors are hard and they boys are still young and still to develop and fill out.”

Thornton Hibs boss Gilbert is looking forward to their first pre-season clash against Kelty Hearts this weekend in the Kelty’s summer tournament.

He said: “It’s our first game so I’m not expecting too much.

“It’s difficult to get the boys available at this time of year with holidays, and other lads doing extra shifts but it should be a good workout.”