Hibernian sign Marc McNulty, Darnell Johnson & Gael Bigirimana

Marc McNulty celebrate scoring
Marc McNulty has failed to earn a regular starting berth in Reading's team this season

Managerless Hibernian "fought off stiff competition" from English clubs to sign Reading striker Marc McNulty on loan until the end of the season.

McNulty, 26, has struggled to break into the Championship club's line-up after arriving last year.

Hibs have also agreed a loan deal for Leicester City defender and England Under-20 cap Darnell Johnson, 20.

And the Leith side have signed midfielder Gael Bigirimana from Motherwell until the summer.

The three new additions join Hibs as the club searches for a replacement to Neil Lennon, after the Northern Irishman left his position as head coach this week.

Johnson will bolster Hibs' defensive options following the January departure of Efe Ambrose and the news that 19-year-old Ryan Porteous will not feature again this season after undergoing knee surgery.

Meanwhile, striker Jamie Maclaren's loan from Darmstadt 98 has been cancelled. allowing him to return to his native Australia with Melbourne City.

'Coming home appealed'

McNulty was a youth player at Easter Road and lists Sheffield United and Portsmouth among his former clubs.

He signed a four-year deal with Reading after helping Coventry City earn promotion to League One but has made only six starts this season.

"Coming back home definitely appealed and Hibs were always my first choice," the Scot said. "I like the way the team tries to play and I like to think I'll fit right in.

"As a striker I'm expecting to be judged on the number of goals I score but that's a pressure I welcome."

Johnson strengthens Hibs defence with Porteous out

Johnson's capture comes as Scotland under-21 centre-back Porteous is ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.

"I've had a great grounding at Leicester City and with the England youth international sides but now I'm really hungry to prove myself at first-team level," Johnson said.

"I've done my research and I know about Hibernian's reputation for giving young players a chance. I hope I'm the next one to make a name for myself here."

Hibs interest 'gobsmacks' Bigirimana

Burundi international Bigirimana, 25, had been with Motherwell since 2017 and made 21 outings this season.

He has signed an "initial deal until the season", according to the Leith club.

"When I was told Hibs wanted to take me I was gobsmacked," Bigirimana said. "We didn't think anything was going to happen in this window.

"I love playing with the ball - my strongest attribute I'd say is passing and trying to control the tempo of the game, making the other team suffer by chasing the ball.

"I can bring that composure to the team, that energy, and when it comes to doing the dirty side of the game it's all about serving the team."

Maclaren 'can't wait' for Australia return

Jamie Maclaren was in his second spell with Hibs on loan
Jamie Maclaren was in his second spell with Hibs on loan

Australian international Maclaren has joined Melbourne City on a deal to 2023.

Hibs say the striker, 25, had "a desire to move closer to home". He scored eight goals in 15 outings last season on loan to Hibs but has only started six matches this term, netting once in 13 games in total.

"I can't wait to return to Australia and as a local lad, it's really exciting to sign for Melbourne City," Maclaren said.

"It is an ambitious club with a talented group of players and experienced coaching staff. I'm confident and looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together."

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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