Definitive verdicts on a transfer window hours after it closes are always a dangerous game to play.

Realistically, the true calibre of a month's business can only be truly assessed that bit further down the line. But still, there is cautious optimism that Hibs have emerged from the January market in better shape than they entered it.

Seven new signings were signed off across the month, with Nick Montgomery adding Myziane Maolida, Emiliano Marcondes, Luke Amos, Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Nectar Triantis, Owen Bevan and Eliezer Mayenda by close of business on Thursday evening. Christian Doidge and Jimmy Jeggo departed on permanent deals to Forest Green Rovers and Melbourne City, respectively, while Harry McKirdy, Riley Harbottle, Max Boruc and Allan Delferriere have all left on loan.

Five of the incomings were loans - always a likely outcome in the tricky January context - with two of a higher pedigree than would be available permanently in Maolida and Emiliano. 


A priority area long before January, the clamour for defensive reinforcements went into overdrive after a return to Premiership action was punctuated by a stream of soft goals conceded against Rangers and Kilmarnock. 20-year-old Will Fish has played more minutes than other Hibs player this season, and Montgomery has not quite been able to settle on either Rocky Bushiri or Paul Hanlon as his partner. 

Harbottle was deemed ill-suited to the manager's style of play, and despite a dearth of depth at centre-back he was the only senior squad member to which Montgomery did not grant even a single minute on the pitch following his September arrival from Central Coast Mariners. An often enforced lack of consistency in back four selection has likely not helped Hibs' defensive frailties, and a run of three clean sheets from five from November into December proved somewhat of a false dawn as the heavy festive schedule kicked in.

Adding Triantis and Bevan certainly afford Montgomery more options, as does the loan recall of Kanayo Megwa from Airdrieonians. Triantis was pursued early in the window, but it took a late rearranging of Sunderland's deck chairs for his move north to materialise, while Bevan was identified through Montgomery's relationship with Simon Francis at Bournemouth.

READ MORE: Eliezer Mayenda seals Hibs loan in last minute deal from Sunderland

Only 20, Triantis' youth and relative inexperience is mitigated by his previous links to Montgomery; the Australian was a mainstay in the manager's 2022/23 A-League winning side, and arrives with considerable knowledge of his demands and system. At 6ft 3, Triantis will add physicality to a rearguard frequently troubled by cross balls and set-pieces, and he appears capable in possession.

Bevan, too, is a player still learning his trade, but the rough and tumble of the Scottish Premiership shouldn't be a complete culture shock given he's sampled the rigours of EFL League Two. Bevan looks more of the 'out-and-out defender' profile, enjoys a tackle, and didn't wilt at the heart of a Cheltenham Town side playing, and facing, some very direct football.

The key question is whether this pair can quickly adapt to life in Scotland. It's fair to say a significant section of the Hibs support would have preferred more battle-hardened centre-back recruits amid a perception their team is too soft. But Montgomery's preference has been to look for young, hungry players with a point to prove, and it would be unfair to make a snap judgement as to whether their experience levels will be detrimental in the months to come.


The primary point of contention in debates around Montgomery's 4-4-2 has been the midfield pairing. In an era where the vast majority of teams prefer a central trio, going with two in the middle often requires a certain profile, namely players who can do a bit of everything, and do it well. Levitt's role has come under particular scrutiny, with questions over his defensive suitability in a deep-lying position, and whether Hibs are getting the best out of a player who was known for his attacking output at Dundee United. 

In Amos and Moriah-Welsh, Montgomery has been able to broaden the range of Hibs' midfield attributes. It took the manager only two training sessions to decide he wanted Amos, a free agent since leaving Queens Park Rangers last summer, and there was some surprise down Bournemouth way that Moriah-Welsh was permitted to depart permanently. The challenge now is - which combination serves the team best?

Since Adam Le Fondre's injury, Hibs midfield and attack looking disconnected had become a theme, yet early evidence from Emiliano suggests that problem could be remedied entirely by the on-loan Bournemouth playmaker's influence. The opening 25 minutes at Rugby Park last weekend was the most fluid Hibs have looked in some time, and Emiliano was not only at the heart of everything positive on the day, his presence helped draw more from the likes of Levitt.


Forward options have been relatively plentiful this season when compared to other areas, but the problem has lay in identifying the most effective combination. Emiliano, and the return of Le Fondre, should allow Dylan Vente a run of games as the focal point, and the expectation will now be that he starts to deliver goals more frequently. Doidge and McKirdy leaving was followed by the surprise capture of Mayenda on loan from Sunderland, and the 18-year-old Spaniard stands out as January's unknown quantity.

Montgomery may just see him as a potential impact sub, something he has been at pains to stress Hibs have not had enough of this season. Doidge's farewell, although understandable, does deprive the side of what had become its go-to plan B in attack. Mayenda is not of the same profile, albeit should bring tenacity and directness - every time needs a wild card, after all.

In Maolida, Montgomery does appear to have found himself a possible rough diamond. On loan from Hertha Berlin, he prefers plays to operate centrally, but his impact off the left against Kilmarnock was crucial to Hibs salvaging a point, and he offered a degree of threat and incision on that side that has eluded Jair of late.

The Portuguese's renaissance was among the early highlights of Montgomery's tenure, but he has plateaued recently, as was perhaps always likely. The manager, however, now has the means to mix it up down the sides, with Martin Boyle returning from the Asian Cup before too long, and Elie Youan still in the mix.

READ MORE: Nectar Triantis scout report as Hibs complete loan deal

Youan is Montgomery's great conundrum. He is consistently involved in goals, yet his all-round game continues to be frustratingly inconsistent, and his is the name you hear the manager consistently bellowing from the sidelines on a Saturday. A larger pool of wide players may just tempt him to try the Frenchman through the middle before long. Soon, Montgomery may be able to call upon Chris Cadden, and there is particular intrigue in how he will fit into a setup that demands wide players offer significant graft in both directions.

Overall, squad depth looks healthier than those threadbare days prior to the winter break. Criticism of results and performances always fell against the caveat that Montgomery had inherited a squad full of holes, and most accepted that he could only be truly judged once it was moulded in his own image. The rebuild is not yet complete, but the manager has been backed sufficiently to allow fans to now expect his vision for Hibs to begin taking shape.