Calderwood warns of storms ahead for Hibernian

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Hibernian manager Colin Calderwood
Calderwood thinks his Hibernian squad is "a wee bit under strength"

Manager Colin Calderwood has warned Hibernian fans that his re-built squad is not yet in good enough shape to challenge for a European place.

"We will need a real big improvement, we'll need to grow, as I can't see us starting the season in the type of form that will take us there," he said.

"I think the start is tough, but what I see is scope in the group.

"But we will have to ride out one or two storms in the first half of the season really."

Calderwood said he would consider qualifying for Europe a success this season but stresses that it will be far from easy.

Hibs open their campaign at home to Celtic on Sunday and visit Inverness, where they have never won, the following weekend.

And Calderwood says that the fans have to be realistic with their expectations.

"If we hit the ground running, fantastic, but as we sit here reality has got to override the support and the reality is that, for any team to say with any justifiable confidence that they are going to start the season and win every game, it's just not going to happen," he said.

There was a huge clear-out of players at Easter Road over the summer, with only three new players recruited; returning duo Ivan Sproule and Garry O'Connor, along with defender Sean O'Hanlon.

Calderwood's options are limited further by injuries to Akpo Sodje, Martin Scott, Michael Hart and Sean Welsh.

Hibs finished a disappointing 10th in the Scottish Premier League last season, with Calderwood having arrived in October to replace the sacked John Hughes.

Birmingham and Nottingham Forest have made approaches to take Calderwood in an assistant manager capacity during the shortened summer break.

And, despite his gloomy outlook for the start of the season, Calderwood declared himself "delighted" to still be in charge at Easter Road.

"The speculation has dragged on all summer, but my focus has been on pre-season and now it's on the opening game," he explained.

"I hope the fans realise that, when I go to work, my concentration is firmly on the task in hand.

"We're as ready as we could be in the amount of time we've had.

"We're not perfect. We're a wee bit under strength, but hopefully we will grow as a team."

Hibs failed with a bid for striker Cillian Sheridan this week, with the Irishman ending up on loan at St Johnstone from Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia.

However, Calderwood hopes to sign up former Bristol Rovers and Nottingham Forest forward Junior Agogo.

A knock has prevented the 31-year-old Ghana international from training at the Edinburgh club over the last few days.

But Calderwood said: "It's certainly something we would like to push through, because I know what he can do."