Hibs could rival Kilmarnock for defender Corrie Ndaba, who spent last season on loan at at Rugby Park from Ipswich Town.

The 24-year-old from Dublin was a key member of the side which finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership in 2023/24. Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes is keen to bring Ndaba back to Ayrshire, and says there's 'a deal to be done' while admitting the player is likely to have other options.

"We would like Corrie," he told Kilmarnock club media. "I said that to him at the end of the season, I said it to him last season," the Killie manager told club media, external.

"I've spoken to him a few times throughout the summer, I spoke to him again last week. He's probably got to get himself sorted out at Ipswich but we feel there's a deal to be done.

"We'll wait and see but we've got to be mindful we're a couple of defenders short, we'd like to try and make a couple of signings if we can.

"We've got a very important game and a very important season coming up so if we have to move on we will. We would like Corrie but ultimately Corrie might have other options."

Hibs are believed to have been considering Ndaba as an option of their own, with new head coach David Gray reshaping an imbalanced squad that was particularly light on defensive cover. He has already secured centre-backs Warren O'Hora and Marvin Ekpiteta on permanent deals, but could look to further strengthen his backline. Here, we take a closer look at Ndaba and what he could offer Hibs.

Background

Ndaba moved from Ireland to join Ipswich as a 16-year-old in 2016, featuring for the club's U23s before signing a first professional contract in 2019. He has since made no fewer than seven loan moves - some without making an appearance - to clubs including Hemel Hempstead Town, Chelmsford City, Ayr United, Salford City (where he won player of the year), Burton Albion, Fleetwood Town and, most recently, Kilmarnock. An Ireland youth international, he made one appearance for the U18s, and was called into an U21 squad in 2019.

After heading to Kilmarnock last season, he made 38 appearances in all competitions. He played 23 league matches, starting in 17 of them, and chipped in with a single goal and assist across the campaign. Hibs fans will remember his red card in the 2-2 draw in February, issued following a VAR review after Ndaba had taken out Jair Tavares. His disciplinary record was otherwise good, though, as he picked up just two bookings all season.

What type of player is he?

In 2021, Ndaba described himself as 'basically a modern day centre-half. I can play, I’m aggressive, I’m tall, so I have a bit of everything really.' He stands at 6ft 2, has the build to match, and possesses plenty of pace. Former Ipswich manager Paul Cook said in 2021 that Ndaba is 'naturally aggresive, wants to engage and have contact'.

The defender was a long-term target for McInnes, and he adapted well to the rigours of the Premiership. Where he is perhaps of particular interest to Hibs is in being left-sided. Both O'Hora and Ekpiteta are right-sided, and Ndaba would help restore the natural balance lost to the departure of Paul Hanlon. 


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There's also his versatility. Ndaba played left-back (16), left-midfield (9), and centre-back (3) for Kilmarnock last season, according to Transfermarkt. With Lewis Stevenson moving on, and young Oscar MacIntyre out on loan, Hibs do not currently have someone to compete with Jordan Obita on the left side of defence, and Ndaba would certainly be able to do that, and more.

Adaptability has been a key theme coming from Gray since his appointment, and an adding a left-footed player with Premiership experience, who can play centre-back, would give Hibs options to switch from a back four to a back three with greater ease. 

The sample size is small, but Ndaba's StatsBomb numbers for his centre-back appearances suggests he's capable in the role, with a high On-Ball Value for his defensive actions, and a decent aerial win percentage.

(Image: StatsBomb)

Most of his matches were played at left-back in a four, behind Danny Armstrong, one of Killie's primary attacking outlets. His StatsBomb radar points to a solid defender, backed up by numbers from Sofascore (all per-90 minutes): 0.3 interceptions, 1.4 tackles, 3.4 ball recoveries, 2.1 clearances, and 0 errors leading to goals conceded.

Going forward, Ndaba did perform as strongly (statistically, at least), but his role was not that of rampaging full-back expected to create chances. Much of Kilmarnock's attacking onus was on their two wingers, Armstrong and Matty Kennedy, with full-backs playing more of a supporting, defensively orientated role. As his Statsbomb rada at full-back below shows, he was largely solid and dependable.

(Image: StatsBomb)

Ndaba's solid defensive numbers remain whether he's deployed at full-back or centre-back, and his physicality and athleticism would be an asset to most Premiership sides. Below is how he compares with Obita, showing similarities in their defensive output but with the Hibs player of the year showing more in how he progresses the ball, both through passing and carrying.

(Image: StatsBomb)

As McInnes said earlier this week, Ndaba is unlikely to be short of options this summer.  He has entered the final year of his contract at Ipswich, and it looks highly unlikely he will have a future at the club, especially following their promotion to the Premier League. Versatile, left-sided defenders aren't easy to come by, and there is a case that he would be an asset for Hibs. However, it remains to be seen whether the club will firm interest that, as things stand, remains in the initial stages.