Hibernian great, Jackie McNamara, believes the signing of Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose and the acquisition of other defenders means the club is heading back to the Scottish Premiership with their best array of centre-backs in recent times.
.On Thursday, Hibernian confirmed the signing of Ambrose, 28, on a two-year deal.
Ambrose enjoyed a fruitful two-month loan stint at Hibernian helping them win the second division title and promotion to the topflight.
Scottish Cup-winning pair, Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine, who have been mainstays of the team in recent seasons, both agreed new deals to stay on at the club last month, while highly regarded homegrown duo Paul Hanlon and Jordon Forster were also retained.
Commenting on Hibernian signings for the backline, McNamara who was a defender for the club between 1976 and 1985 and had a testimonial match in his honour against Newcastle in 1984, state that he is impressed with the makeup of the defensive setup.
“I can’t remember us being this strong at the back,” McNamara tells Edinburgh News.
“We’ve had good defenders like big Rob Jones and people like that, but it’s been a long time since we’ve had a batch of five centre-backs of such a good quality.
“Hibs have been seen as a soft touch at the back for a long time, but you couldn’t say that about this group. We’ve certainly not got much to worry about at the back now. We’ve also got a lot of experience there, which should stand us in good stead. I’m delighted with the backbone of the team, and the back-up.”
McNamara believes Neil Lennon (Hibernian manager) will be spoilt for choices in central defence.
“It’s Neil’s problem to pick who he thinks is the best,” says McNamara.
“But he’s not going to have a major problem if one gets injured because he’s got others of a similar quality who can step in. The five of them are all smashing players.
“Getting Efe signed is a great piece of business because it raises the bar. He was different class for us at the end of last season. He strolled every game he played, and the crowd took to him straight away. Then you’ve got Hanlon, who has come on a ton in the last few seasons. He looks stronger and more dominant.
"Fontaine’s played in the English Championship for years and has been a regular for Hibs – he’s a class act. And Forster’s come in and done well whenever he’s been called upon. But for me, it would be Darren McGregor alongside one or two of the others. I just love that boy – he’s outstanding, one of my favourite players. He’d never be out of my team if he was fit.
“It’ll be difficult for Neil to keep them all happy. If I was one of those centre-backs and I wasn’t playing, I wouldn’t be happy but I’d be trying to prove why I should be in the team. It’s a good position for Hibs to be in because every one of them is a quality player.”