JOE NEWELL has handed Hibernian a timely boost ahead of their meeting with Celtic after indicating he is ready to sign a new contract.
The midfielder has been instrumental in the Easter Road club’s vibrant start to the campaign, having recovered from an indifferent first year at the club.
With the two-year deal he penned on his arrival from Rotherham United due to expire at the end of the season, manager Jack Ross has revealed initial talks have begun with Newell and goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, who is also in the last year of his contract.
Relishing being one of the first names on the team-sheet at present, Newell insists he expects an agreement to be struck when the time is right.
“There have been initial talks but no detail and nothing concrete,” he said. “When it comes down to it, there will be discussions between my agent and the club and we will see what happens from there.
“I have said previously that I have loved my time here so far; the gaffer has come in and shown his trust in me and I have really enjoyed it.
“If anything, Covid has ruined it a bit for me so far. In my 18 months up here, I have not really had the chance to experience the city, as well as the club, on and off the pitch, because of not having the fans in.
“So, when the conversations come round, there will be no problems. We will try to get it sorted.”
After a positive opening to the season, the Scottish Cup semi-final loss to rivals Hearts and the meek 2-0 defeat to Aberdeen that followed posed serious questions of the Hibs squad for probably the first time since football resumed.
BIT OF A RUT
Newell has confessed confidence was dented, but reckons it was subsequently restored by last weekend’s 4-1 victory over Dundee in the Betfred Cup.
Celtic will provide a far sterner test than the Championship outfit but Newell sees the 2-2 draw with Rangers in September, when Hibs became the first team to score against the Ibrox side this term, as evidence that self-belief should be high in the capital ranks for the visit of the under-pressure champions.
“It was a tough week overall,” he said of the Hearts and Aberdeen losses. “We were all in a bit of a rut from the Hearts game, there was a bit of a hangover really, not that it’s an excuse.
“But we had the Betfred Cup game in between and this Celtic game coming up, and everyone has been given the chance to recharge the batteries and go again.
“The fact that we came from behind in that [Rangers] game, the character shown, that was one of the toughest tests we’ve had this season and to come from behind, we did take a lot of confidence from that. We did a lot of good stuff and had other chances to win the game as well.
“We know we are a good team and we have good players and a good squad so, while on any given day Celtic can cause us problems, they will know that about us as well.
“We have good players and can play some good stuff as well. If we perform as we can do then there is no reason why we can’t get a good result.”