Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom has delivered an ominous message to his squad as pre-season gets underway – telling them they’ll be taken to “levels of fitness they have not known.”

Heck takes charge of his first full season this term after taking over from Neil Lennon in February and intends to “stretch” his players before the Betfred Cup starts next month.

21st April 2019, Easter Road, Edinburgh, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Hibernian versus Celtic; Paul Heckingbottom Hibernian Manager

(Photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The Hibs boss wants four wins from four in the group stage and intends to push his players hard over the next six weeks to get them ready.

“The Betfred Cup games are important. We want to win all of them,” Heckingbottom told the Edinburgh Evening News.

3rd April 2019, Easter Road, Edinburgh, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Hibernian versus Kilmarnock; Paul Heckingbottom Hibernian Manager and Robbie Stockdale Hibernian Coach at full time with match officials

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“We’ve only got three weeks before they start and then, further down the line, the new league season. We’ll be working hard and looking to swap players about to make sure everyone gets game time.

“We have to stretch the players, take them to levels of fitness they have not known before so we have to push them over the next six and a half to seven weeks.”

Hibs face Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath and Elgin City  in the groups and also have friendlies scheduled against Arbroath, Dunfermline, Carlisle United and Newcastle United before the league campaign kicks off.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Paul Heckingbottom Manager of Hibs FC takes to the field for the first time before the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Hibernian and Hamilton Academical at Easter Road on February 16, 2019 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

(Photo by Callum Landells/Getty Images)

After an impressive start to life at Easter Road, Heckingbottom will be hoping he can really build on that with the chance to properly prepare and shape his squad.

If Hibs do pick up where they left off under Heckingbottom last season, they could put early pressure on at the top of the table and make as strong start in the League Cup.

Have something to tell us about this article?