Exeter manager Gary Caldwell admits he is looking forward to an international break after witnessing his side’s 3-0 defeat at Fleetwood.

The visitors shipped three goals in a disastrous first half, never really looked like salvaging anything from their long trip north and left the field to a chorus of boos from their travelling fans.

Caldwell held his hands up and is prepared to carry the can for his team, who have not tasted victory in Sky Bet League One since mid-September.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and although we improved in the second half we were 3-0 down so that was the least you’d expect,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do and we need to stand up and be counted, but at this moment in time we’re not doing that.

“Ultimately I pick the team and I have to take responsibility for that. We have a bit of respite now with the international break and we can do a lot of work on the training ground because so many things need to be better.

“I understand that the fans are frustrated, we’re all frustrated. They come a long way to watch us and in the first half that wasn’t good enough. They are well within their rights to boo and criticise and we all have to work hard on the training pitch to change that momentum at the moment.

“The window doesn’t open until January and then we will look at it so we have to work with the players we’ve got, and they were fantastic early season.

“We have a few injuries that we have to get back but as individuals we have to look at ourselves and be better.”

Fleetwood boss Lee Johnson admitted things could hardly have gone better for his team in that first period, when Ryan Broom, Brendan Wiredu and Phoenix Patterson all found the net.

Patterson’s strike came after he had been sent tumbling in the box by Pierce Sweeney, referee Thomas Kirk awarding a free-kick just outside.

Patterson sent it perfectly into the near corner, leaving Johnson delighted with his young winger.

“Phoenix has been on it for the last two or three weeks,” he said. “He’s had to ‘unlearn’ some things, I wasn’t fully happy with his application, not in terms of his effort, work rate and professionalism, but his attitude to turn and drive at people, and I say that lovingly because I know how good he is.

“He’s got a great centre of gravity, a great end product and a little shift of pace and dynamism in the final third and he’s got real quality. If he was timid like I’d seen earlier in my tenure it wasn’t enough, but he’s deserved his chance and he’s taken it, he’s been excellent.

“It was a very satisfying win, I thought the first half in particular was excellent, we had a 15-minute spell where we stopped working hard early enough but we could have been 5-0 up at half-time, I think that would have probably been a fair assessment of the first half.

“Key for us is that we know what good looks like now and we know when we’re not playing well what that looks like as well and that allows the players to self-coach and manage each other, so I was really pleased to see that. It’s a really positive sign for us.

“As a general rule we feel like we’re going in the right direction.”

Victorious Fleetwood manager Lee Johnson challenged his players to use their FA Cup exploits as a springboard after beating Kidderminster 2-1 at Aggborough.

Headers from Josh Earl and Shaun Rooney either side of the break were enough for the Cod Army to dump the National League strugglers out of the competition, cancelling out Bailey Hobson’s side-footed opener.

Overcoming adversity in front of a vocal home crowd, Johnson admired the courage of his players at the final whistle.

“We had four golden chances and my criticism is not punishing them and putting the sword through,” he said.

“I was very pleased with the players, particularly after they scored because giving up a goal against a side like this where it’s really important for them to do well in the cup, it gives them something to get hold of.

“We weren’t scoring a lot, now we look like we’re doing that but we’ve got to be ruthless and be killers in front of goal.

“It’s a competition that I really want to do well in and to achieve success, because I think it can be a catalyst to push us on as a football club.”

For Harriers boss Russell Penn on the receiving end of the result, plenty of heart can also be taken, he feels.

“We’re really disappointed with the timings of the goals, because in an FA Cup game you have to have that momentum going into half-time when we’ve scored so late,” he said.

“The whole place was flattened by the second goal and it’s so hard to pin it back especially against better opposition.

“We could’ve been at our absolute best today and still lost the game, and we have to respect that.”

Jack Marriott salvaged Fleetwood a dramatic late point in a six-goal Lancashire derby thriller at Highbury.

The Cod Army looked set to secure bragging rights against their neighbours for the first time in five years after a quick-fire first-half burst.

Blackpool had a great early chance when Jordan Rhodes’ strike rattled the crossbar after just six minutes.

Promise Omochere opened the scoring for the hosts after 13 minutes after he was left in plenty of space to pick his spot.

And Lee Johnson’s side doubled their lead five minutes later as the Seasiders made a mess of clearing a corner, with Marriott poking home the rebound.

Blackpool goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw kept the deficit at just the two when he kept out Shaun Rooney with his feet.

Sonny Carey turned the game on its head with a three-minute brace early in the second half.

The 22-year-old, who opened his league account for the season last time out, curled home a nice strike in the 48th minute before quickly firing in a second effort from the edge of the box.

Shayne Lavery completed the turnaround in the 65th minute after being played through by Rhodes.

But Marriott’s stunning 90th-minute strike secured a precious point for the strugglers.

Wycombe secured their first home win for over a month with a convincing 4-1 victory at struggling Fleetwood.

Lee Johnson, who took over from Scott Brown last month, had led the Cod Army to back-to-back wins without conceding.

But they were completely blown away by the on-song Chairboys as Dale Taylor’s double, Freddie Potts and Luke Leahy secured victory at Highbury.

Jack Marriott’s effort was a mere consolation before the hosts’ day was compounded by Ben Heneghan’s second-half sending off.

Northern Irish striker Taylor opened the scoring with a looping header from the edge of the six-yard box from Josh Scowen’s cross in the 20th minute.

Potts doubled the advantage with his second goal for the club with a fine touch and finish, completing a great team move, 14 minutes later.

It was three before the break as Potts turned provider for Taylor to slot home.

Marriott pulled one back as he diverted home Junior Quitirna’s cross.

But any hopes of a miracle comeback were dashed moments later when Heneghan tripped Brandon Hanlan who was racing through.

Leahy added gloss from the resulting free-kick as he bent it into the top corner.

Hibernian are looking for what will be their sixth manager in less than five years after sacking Lee Johnson.

Hibs confirmed Johnson had departed less than 24 hours after a 3-2 home defeat by Livingston meant they had lost their opening three cinch Premiership matches.

Chief executive Ben Kensell said on the Hibernian website: “The club has taken the tough decision to relieve Lee Johnson of his duties following a disappointing start to the domestic campaign.

“We wish Lee and his coaching staff all the best for the future and thank them for their efforts.”

Hibs confirmed that coaches Jamie McAllister and Adam Owen had also left with immediate effect.

The change comes ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off second leg against Aston Villa with Hibs 5-0 down from the first leg.

Former skipper David Gray will assume caretaker charge for the “immediate future”, for the third time since December 2021, and will be supported by Stuart Garden.

Johnson twice survived four-game losing streaks and poor cup form in his first season at Easter Road before finally leading Hibs to fifth place and a spot in the Conference League qualifiers.

Hibs have had highs and lows in Europe this season with travelling fans venting their fury in Andorra following a first-leg defeat by Inter d’Escaldes before the Leith side won 6-1 at home.

Victory over Luzern in the third qualifying round was followed by a Viaplay Cup triumph against Raith Rovers, but then came defeats against Villa and Livi.

After earlier league losses against St Mirren and Motherwell, Hibs were left alone on zero points at the foot of the table.

Johnson acknowledged that he was under pressure immediately after Saturday’s Easter Road defeat against a Livingston side who had not scored in their previous nine Premiership away games.

The former Bristol City and Sunderland manager said: “I genuinely do apologise because I didn’t want to start like this.

“I was full of beans – I still am – going into the season and this has caught us out a little bit.

“I hope they (the board) stick with me, I really do, because I want to be here. I’d never throw the towel in.

“And I understand there will be fans calling for my head. But I genuinely believe that we’ll do it. I think we’ve got a good squad, I think we’ve had a few issues – and we’ve got to tidy up our defensive stuff.

“It’s unacceptable, I understand that. I’m okay to take responsibility for that knowing I still have belief in the squad.

“I’m disappointed because I love it here and I believe in us. But at the same time I’ve experienced this before in my career.”

Hibs were behind for the vast majority of the game with Jordan Obita scoring an early own goal before Martin Boyle levelled. Bruce Anderson headed Livi back in front and Mo Sangare’s wonder striker made it 3-1 before Josh Campbell pulled on back late on.

Johnson said: “We will turn it. The season and the league settles down when it becomes week to week.

“I hope that when we do turn it around, and we will, that those fans accept that and come back onside.

“That’s all I ask, humbly, and I accept the criticism and responsibility but I want to do very well for this football club and we’re pushing it in all directions.”

Johnson lasted slightly longer than his immediate three predecessors – Paul Heckingbottom, Jack Ross and Shaun Maloney – with Hibs looking for stability they last had when Neil Lennon spent two-and-a-half years in the hotseat.

Lee Johnson has been sacked as Hibernian manager.

Hibs confirmed Johnson had departed less than 24 hours after a 3-2 home defeat by Livingston meant they had lost their opening three cinch Premiership matches.

Chief executive Ben Kensell said on the Hibernian website: “The club has taken the tough decision to relieve Lee Johnson of his duties following a disappointing start to the domestic campaign.

“We wish Lee and his coaching staff all the best for the future and thank them for their efforts.”

The change comes ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off second leg against Aston Villa with Hibs 5-0 down from the first leg.

Hibs confirmed that coaches Jamie McAllister and Adam Owen had also left with immediate effect.

Former skipper David Gray will take caretaker charge for the “immediate future”, supported by Stuart Garden.

Lee Johnson claims his Hibernian side were up against an Aston Villa side with “almost superhuman” qualities in their 5-0 Europa Conference League thrashing at Easter Road.

It was the Midlands club’s first European tie in 13 years and the first leg of their qualifying play-off tie was won by the interval thanks to three headers, two by England international Ollie Watkins and one from Jamaica’s Leon Bailey.

Watkins grabbed his hat-trick three minutes after the restart with and Douglas Luiz adding a fifth from the spot in the 74th minute to make next week’s second leg at Villa Park all but academic.

It was Johnson’s 500th competitive game in management and he tried to put the defeat into context as he turned his attention to the visit of Livingston in the Premiership on Saturday.

He said: “I think we have a really good, honest bunch of players. I trust them and they give their all every day.

“There is a difference. Premier League players now are almost superhuman in their athleticism. It’s the super-elite from all over the world and that’s what you get.

“It was a good experience, and I don’t think it will affect confidence going into the Livingston game.

“But the physical recovery is really key for us because we are a team that needs to use our running power and our physicality at our level to maximise our performances.

“I’m still proud of the club for being at this level on this stage. The reality is we have an English League One budget against a fantastic multi-international standard Aston Villa.

“It was clear there was a gulf in class, I can’t deny that.

“At half-time we wanted to salvage some pride and look like we were going to go and win the half. We started it pretty well and got behind them, but that’s the difference – one break, one poor positional error, one quality pass and a great finish.

“Having played against Premier League teams in the past, you cannot make positional errors because they’re punished.

“So I hope this experience is a good one, because your lessons can become your teacher. We can grow from having felt the quality of the athleticism, the touch and the tactical work that Villa did tonight.”

Villa boss Unai Emery was pleased with the way his side approached their biggest away win in Europe.

He said: “If we weren’t competitive and serious we could have had problems.

“We spoke before the match about how we had to respect the opponents and be focused and consistent in our game plan.

“We knew if we weren’t we could have lost. We were focused and disciplined and consistent for 90 minutes. That is the mentality I want to create here.”

Emery revealed he replaced goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez with Robin Olsen for the start of the second half because the World Cup winner “had a small pain and we didn’t want to take a risk with him”.

Former Hibs favourite John McGinn captained Villa and was a powerhouse in midfield to the delight of his boss.

“He is amazing,” said Emery.

“I know you love him here more than me, but I think he is amazing.

“He always wants, from the first minute to the 90th minute, to run and to be competitive.

“I am very happy with him. And not only as a player, as a person as well. His commitment is very high.

“He is always positive, always smiling. In bad moments, in good moments, he always keeps the same mentality. It is fantastic.”

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson praised his “warriors” after a 2-2 draw in Switzerland set up a European clash with Aston Villa.

Villa captain John McGinn will bring his team to Easter Road next Wednesday for the first leg of the Europa Conference League play-offs after Hibs secured a 5-3 aggregate victory over Luzern.

Elie Youan scored early to put Hibs three ahead on aggregate and then set up Martin Boyle for a 73rd-minute equaliser after Luzern had got in front on the night.

Backed by about 1,000 travelling fans, Hibs saw out the game to ensure they progressed through a second European round in a season for only the second time in 50 years.

Johnson told Hibs TV: “I’m super proud. I’m proud of everybody – the board, the fans, the staff who work ever so hard, and the players. The players have been absolute Trojans.

“This was a stretch game for us, they are a quality side. The boys have worked so hard, they have had to double up,  run forward, run back, make big angles.

“When we had to see the game out, there were some really good passages of play.

“There were some big, big warrior-type performances. The fans massively played their part.

“It just goes to show we are building something here. Everybody is frustrated with us, and we are as well, with our league start in terms of the two losses.

“But this is a sign we can compete at this type of level and we just keep building the club and pushing it forward.”

Hibs reached the European Cup semi-finals in the competition’s first season in 1955-56 and made the last four and two quarter-finals of the Fairs Cup in the 1960s and the European Cup Winners’ Cup last eight in 1972-73.

But recent forays into Europe have not been successful.

Johnson added: “Hibs haven’t been amazing in the past in terms of Europe. This goes down as one of the biggest wins over two legs, probably in the club’s history. For that we are extremely proud and now obviously we bring on Aston Villa.”

Lee Johnson knows Hibernian have only done half a job after they earned a commanding two-goal advantage in their Europa Conference League tie against Luzern.

Joe Newell’s opener just 18 seconds into the second half was cancelled out by Ismajl Beka’s header.

But debutant Dylan Vente and Jordan Obita scored to put Hibs in a strong position heading into next Thursday’s second leg in Switzerland.

And Johnson, whose side opened their Premiership campaign with a 3-2 home defeat to St Mirren on Sunday, has told his players they have now set a standard they must reach in every game.

He said: “It’s half-time. I said in Andorra when we lost 2-1 (against Inter d’Escaldes in the previous round) that it was half-time and I’ll say that now when we’ve got a plus-two lead.

“I really like Luzern. They’re a real quality side – brilliant in terms of that education for the club, for myself, for the players.

“And I was really proud today, for the whole club. We took a bit of stick, and rightly so, for our first-half performance the other day (against St Mirren).

“But that’s what Hibs is about. The crowd were up – 13,000 felt like 25,000 – the boys were making big tackles, they had pressure on everywhere.

“But we’ve got to do that in every game. That’s a marker now for this group.

“I honestly think it’s nowhere near done, genuinely. I think they’re a really good side. They’ve got threats and quality everywhere.

“We’re extremely proud tonight but nothing is done in the tie.”

Johnson also hailed debutant Vente, whose work permit issues following his move from Roda JC in the Netherlands were resolved on the eve of the tie.

He added: “I’m delighted for Dylan. I was getting a bit of stick before the game about the team selection, and I was quite surprised. I thought it was quite a bold one.

“Dylan was excellent. Obviously he had a goal and an assist. But, for me, I thought it was more about his work-rate and how hard he worked.

“I thought him and Alfie (Adam Le Fondre) worked their socks off and they’re dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Luzern manager Mario Frick admits his side have a mountain to climb.

He said: “The second half started with a gift from our side when they scored the first goal and, of course, with the support of the fans it got difficult.

“But we were still in the game and we had our chances and the equaliser came pretty quickly.

“Then, it was 2-1 and again a gift from our side and it became a nightmare. It’s a difficult situation for the second leg now.

“Can we progress in the second leg? Not if we play like today. We have to get back to our real game to have a chance.

“It’s not impossible but it’s a very difficult situation.”

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson admitted he ignored medical advice to accelerate Martin Boyle’s comeback before the winger’s double sent his side on their way to European redemption.

Boyle was a surprise starter as Hibs made amends against Inter d’Escaldes in a 6-1 second-leg victory to set up a Europa Conference League third qualifying-round tie against Swiss side Luzern.

The winger had only played 45 minutes in pre-season, against Blackpool on Saturday, but made his first competitive appearance in nine months and struck the first two goals on his return from a serious knee injury.

Johnson said: “I believe in him and I believed he would (make an impact) because I have seen him every day.

“I have been as frustrated as anybody and in fact I went against medial guidance last week to play him at Blackpool with this game in mind.

“I had to question myself a little bit, whether it was desperation to put him in, but it’s more about the balance of the team and what we require to be as elite as we were.

“It was needs must in one sense but he was also ready. He passed all the physical markers on Tuesday.

“He has worked extremely hard and he has been champing at the bit to get on earlier. We are very proud of him of how hard he has worked but he will be very happy and he will sleep well I am sure.”

Hibs overcame the blow of losing goalkeeper David Marshall to a tight hamstring in the warm-up and then debutant Jojo Wollacott to a thigh injury early on. Max Boruc came on for his own debut and had little to do before conceding an impressive late consolation goal.

Hibs had well and truly banished the pain of last week’s 2-1 defeat in Andorra by that point, with the help of Josh Campbell’s double and goals from Christian Doidge and Elie Youan.

Johnson added: “It was a difficult game last week. Obviously we have taken a lot of stick but we never lost our belief and that showed in this performance. There was no edginess, the players were still confident, we played our way.

“They are dangerous, they can play up to the big nine, they have two tricky wingers. We had to get on the front foot and disrupt their back four. That’s what we did and that’s why they couldn’t handle us.

“We broke their spirit early, which was key. Every man was at it.”

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson called for fans to maintain belief ahead of their second leg against Inter d’Escaldes as he claimed it was too strong to describe their 2-1 defeat in Andorra an embarrassment.

Joe Newell’s stoppage-time free-kick gave Hibs a lifeline after they conceded in each half of the first leg of the Europa Conference League second qualifying round.

Johnson asked for negativity over their defeat to be kept under control ahead of next Thursday’s return leg.

“I’m super disappointed,” he said. “The word ’embarrassing’ feels strong considering the tie is not over.

“I knew, I told you guys, these are not a bad side. They remind me of my dad’s Cheltenham side when they were doing very well in League Two.

“We don’t have any given right to go and beat anybody unless we are at it.

“We have to be  on the front foot, aggressive, confident, brave and bold, and we weren’t that until we took a punch on the nose and made a couple of changes.

“Individuals have got to hold their hands up and be responsible, I have got to hold my hands up and be responsible, but what we don’t need is the tension and the tightness of the negativity to seep into the players’ performances.

“The fans have got to maintain belief. We need everyone in the second leg to give us that bolster.”

Slack defending saw Hibs fall behind in the 15th minute and they struggled to respond before Johnson brought on Christian Doidge and Newell at half-time.

Even then chances were at a premium before David Marshall spilled a weak shot after a goal kick had bounced over Lewis Stevenson’s head, and Jean-Luc doubled the home side’s lead in the 71st minute.

Hibs suddenly found some urgency to their play and Johnson could not understand where it had been at the start of the game.

“I’m majorly disappointed with the first-half performance, I thought it was really, really poor,” he said. “We didn’t acclimatise, whether that was conditions or altitude.

“The lads knew everything about the opposition, we had studied them deeply, and they were good. You have to give the Andorrans credit, they worked extremely hard.

“There were far too many unforced errors from us. You could give them credit, you could say it was good pressing.

“There were too many individual poor decisions. We should have been better in our decision-making and our execution.

“We took a bit of stick and that was fair. Second half was much better.

“I made some half-time substitutions and they did well and I thought we had opportunties to maybe even go on and win the game.

“The second goal is an absolute suckler punch, a poor couple of errors which senior players will hold their hands up to, no doubt.

“And Joe Newell’s goal really was ever so important because this is a completely different game now going back to Easter Road, big wide pitch, fans behind us.

“We have to be careful not to be too negative, certainly not in-house.”

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson believes standing David Marshall down as captain will suit the goalkeeper as well as the team.

Paul Hanlon has been restored as Hibs captain after Marshall wore the armband in Johnson’s first season in charge.

The 38-year-old faces fresh competition for the gloves with former Swindon keeper JoJo Wollacott, who joined on a three-year deal this summer.

But Johnson confirmed that Marshall would start in goal on Thursday when Hibs face Inter Club d’Escaldes in the first leg of the Europa Conference League second qualifying round in Andorra.

Johnson added: “It allows Marsh to concentrate on that goalkeeping battle.

“One of the big things is positionally on the pitch, you are trying to get information to players and it’s not easy to go by your captain when he’s in goal and 50-60 yards away.

“When I came through the door, don’t forget, Paul Hanlon was injured. I didn’t know anybody and at that point David Marshall was probably the only one in the squad I could guarantee would play.

“Marsh is a leader anyway, that’s a factor in this after having a discussion with Marsh.

“And also both ways, Marsh is also taking on an awful lot in terms of his future. He is doing a sporting directorship, he is doing his coaching badges as well, and being captain of a football club like this takes an awful lot of time up.

“You’d be surprised, just the little things like arranging the bonuses, the tickets, all that type of stuff, is a really important factor.”

Hanlon has played 535 times for Hibs and sits fifth on the club’s all time appearance holders list.

“With Paul having been here a while, it probably suits him best this season,” Johnson added.

“It’s clear for everyone to see that Paul is extremely trusted, that he has strong leadership and communication skills, and by playing in the centre of defence it allows him to get messages around the whole team quickly and effectively.”

Hanlon is one of several players Johnson has been mining for information ahead of his own European debut.

“I will have to lean on the experience of the boys,” the former Sunderland manager said.

“I have had a lot of conversations with the lads that have played in these European games because I didn’t play in European competition and nor have I managed in that.

“You can do all the work in the world in terms of studying the opposition but inevitably experience is always welcome. I don’t feel like we are short of it, the lads are well versed in foreign competition.”

Johnson revealed Martin Boyle would be on the bench in Andorra in a “cheerleading” capacity and would not feature as he continues his comeback from a serious knee injury.

Lee Johnson believes Hibernian’s 4-2 victory over Celtic helps prove that he has not been all talk when discussing his “dream” for the Edinburgh club.

The Englishman has spoken bullishly about having the Hibees competing at the top end of Scottish football on a consistent basis since taking charge a year ago.

Although his team have struggled for consistency in his first season at the helm, they have delivered big wins over Aberdeen, Hearts and now Celtic, while also taking a point off Rangers.

Wednesday’s victory over the Hoops guaranteed that Hibs will finish at least fifth in the Premiership – a position that will be enough to qualify for the Europa Conference League if Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final – while they have the chance to leapfrog city rivals Hearts into fourth by winning this Saturday’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

“It’s not just about confidence for this weekend, it’s about the future,” Johnson said when asked about the effect of the win over Celtic. “I feel like I’ve been selling this dream and at times we’ve fallen a bit short of delivering it but at times we’ve also proved it.

“The Hearts game at home here was a big result, Aberdeen away even though we drew, Aberdeen at home. We can compete against these guys and that belief has to build.

“The belief in us, the belief in me, the belief in the players, the belief that the fans will stick by us when we are one or two goals down because we can genuinely come back.

“Our next step is to obviously try and secure Europe. We get an opportunity to do that on Saturday and if that doesn’t come to the fore we hope Celtic can do us a favour by winning the cup.”

Hibs became only the third Scottish team to defeat Celtic this term after Rangers and St Mirren also achieved the feat. Johnson believes victories over the Glasgow sides are essential for his team to progress.

“I’ve harped on about getting closer to the Old Firm, taking points off them, and every point you get against those teams is almost like a point and a half in terms of how much it counts for because the others don’t get them,” he said.

“St Mirren have had some really good wins and performances against the Old Firm this year and it makes a difference.

“We have to compete. This club deserves to be competitive in these games and budgets are what, eight or nine times what ours are?

“But that doesn’t mean you can’t get an organised, motivated, hungry, talented XI plus subs out on the pitch and I think you saw that against Celtic.”

Hibs lost both CJ Egan-Riley and Joe Newell to injury against Celtic, and both will be assessed ahead of the Hearts game.

“CJ is struggling,” said Johnson. “It looks like he’s done his hamstring. Joe Newell is looking more likely to be available.”

Lee Johnson is hoping to remain at Hibernian “for the long haul” after coming through a roller-coaster first year as manager with his team firmly in contention to qualify for Europe.

The 41-year-old former Bristol City and Sunderland boss has the Edinburgh club fifth in the cinch Premiership, just a point off fourth place, with three games of his maiden campaign in charge remaining.

Johnson has had to deal with a dire run of injuries to key players, a major overhaul of the recruitment structure, and some patchy runs of form, as well as the death of owner Ron Gordon in February.

However, he is relishing his role at Easter Road and is eager to oversee sustained improvement in the coming years.

“I would love to be here for the long haul,” Johnson said on Friday, the first anniversary of his appointment. “I think it’s a brilliant club. The staff are fantastic, I like the dynamic at Easter Road and HTC (Hibs Training Centre).

“I feel like we’ve still got a lot to do, we’re not finished. A lot of that is finance permitting but success on the pitch brings greater finance and the great thing about this club is that there’s no money ever being taken out.

“It all replenishes and goes back into the right places for the good of the club in the long term. And I am a long-term manager. I’m not one of those that comes in as a quick firefighter and then I’m gone.

“I feel like sustained progression is very important for the long-term future of the club and that’s how I try and perform as a manager, by making the right decisions on a daily basis for the short, medium and long term.”

Asked for his reflections on his first year at Hibs, Johnson said: “There’s probably a book in there, or certainly a chapter. I think we’re progressing, I genuinely do.

“It was a more difficult job than I anticipated looking at it from afar. When you’re then in the building you see there are a lot of good people but a lot of systems and processes that needed to improve.

“We talked a lot about our recruitment (previously) but I think that’s in a good place, well funded, well organised, well structured with good personnel. Recruitment is massive.

“The facilities are great but we’ve just spent £1 million on the pitches at Easter Road and at the training ground. And we’ve got progression in terms of making the top six and scoring more goals.

“Plus, we’ve had a very difficult season in terms of having our money on the pitch and having key players available. Overall, we’ve got ourselves in a position where we can deliver a form of success if we have a good six days next week.

“We’ve got the opportunity to qualify for Europe. I’d love it to have been in third, although that’s a real long shot. Fourth isn’t unrealistic, and fifth – if you’re a betting man – has a good chance, even though there’s a lot to do. We know Celtic have got to do the fifth-place team a favour (by beating Inverness in the Scottish Cup final), therefore we need to go and try to stake a claim for fourth place.”

Hibs have been linked with Wales international midfielder Jonny Williams, who is a free agent after leaving Swindon.

“Jonny’s one that’s out of contract so would naturally come into a club our size’s consideration but at the same time there are so many factors,” said Johnson. “Every player that’s out of contract, including our own, go into that pot of potential availability, and then the player’s got to be affordable, accessible and available.”

Meanwhile, former Blackburn boss Steve Kean has left his role as Hibs’ academy director to become manager of Georgian side Torpedo Kutaisi.

Lee Johnson is confident Hibernian will reap the benefits of making a “considerable investment” in signing Elie Youan on a permanent deal until the summer of 2026.

The Easter Road club announced on Thursday that they have taken advantage of an option-to-buy clause to purchase the 24-year-old French forward from Swiss side St Gallen after he impressed during his loan with the Edinburgh side this season.

Manager Johnson revealed the Hibees have paid a fee of “not quite seven figures, but very high sixes” for Youan – who has seven goals and seven assists this term – and he believes it will prove money well spent.

“The club have invested in a young asset,” he said. “Credit to the ownership for the investment they’ve put in, it’s a considerable investment for a club like Hibs, and one that we feel is a good one for us, not only on the pitch but in terms of future value as well.

“Elie has improved phenomenally this season. He’s had an impact in a difficult league. He’s got good numbers in terms of goals and assists and he stretches opponents.

“He’s growing up. He’s moved to a different country and culture and if that trajectory remains, then you’d expect him to have an even better season next season.

“He’s not the finished article and we’re not finished developing him. He’s got mega work to do. This is just an extension of his work and I think Hibs is a great vehicle for Elie.”

The recruitment of Youan was the second bit of notable business finalised by Hibs this week after they announced on Tuesday that 35-year-old Lewis Stevenson – who has spent his entire career with them – has signed a deal to remain with the Hibees for next term. Johnson feels the veteran still has scope for improvement.

“Lewy’s attachment to the club, his personality, and his quality on the football pitch is important,” the manager said. “He’s absolutely trustworthy, you know what you’re getting with him.

“And this is going to sound a bit of a strange one, but I think he’s still got loads to work on. I think he’s got more in the locker than he shows sometimes.

“He’s dynamic, he’s powerful, he’s got a great centre of gravity and he can handle the ball, but I want him to take the ground more, take the little spaces.

“That sounds strange to try and improve someone of his age but he enjoys trying to improve that attacking stuff. But as a defender, you can’t get more honest and trustworthy. He never shirks a tackle, you wouldn’t want to play against him because he’s brave and tough.”

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