ADAM Hammill today backed his former manager Paul Heckingbottom to transform the fortunes of Hibernian - just like he did during his time in the dugout at Barnsley.

Heckingbottom has emerged as the front runner to replace Neil Lennon at Easter Road after the Edinburgh club's negotiations with Michael Appleton, the former Blackpool, Blackburn and Portsmouth manager, broke down.

The 41-year-old Englishman has been out of football since being sacked by Championship club Leeds United after just four months in charge at Elland Road last June.

However, Hammill, the former Dunfermline and St Mirren winger who is now playing for Scunthorpe, believes he is an outstanding choice to take over from Lennon in Leith.

He played under Heckingbottom at Oakwell for two seasons and enjoyed great success during that time.

The Tykes beat Oxford United in the Football League Trophy final at Wembley in 2016 and then followed that up by defeating Millwall in the League One Play-Off final at the same venue a month later.

The 31-year-old, who has plied for Southampton, Blackpool, Wolves, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town during his professional career, revealed the former Darlington, Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday defender is one of the best managers he has ever worked under.

And the player, who spent the first half of the 2018/19 campaign on loan in Paisley, is confident he can resurrect a Hibs team which has won just one of their last eight Ladbrokes Premiership games and has slipped to eighth place in the top flight table as a result.

“When Paul first got the Barnsley job he galvanised the lads,” said Hammill. “He ended up taking us to promotion to the Championship and winning the Football League Trophy.

"He is a young coach with bright ideas and is very forward-thinking. He is always on the training ground trying to help and improve players. He knows how to get the best out of players.

“He is full of ideas and is very good at getting them across to his players. I really enjoyed his style of football. It was high intensity and involved closing the opposition down and trying to win the ball high up the pitch.

“When you were on the ball it was all about expressing yourself. I really enjoyed playing that way and I felt I flourished as a result. He is one of the best managers I have worked with in my career and I have had a lot.

“He is very passionate. He will go through what he wants from a player individually and from a team collectively. It is a no brainer for Hibs to appoint him as their manager.

“I think he will do really well in Scotland. His style of play will do well at Hibs because they are a good footballing team. They tend to dominate the ball.

“When you give the ball away he wants you to win it back within five seconds. He won’t have to do too much to get them pressing high up the pitch because he feels if you do that you are more likely to score."

He added: “Off the pitch, he is a great guy. You could always talk with him on a one-to-one basis, go and have a coffee with him, talk about football and life in general.

“He is a good coach, man manager and person. That is important to get the best out of your players. He is genuinely interested in how you are and how things are going in your life. I think he understands if you are happy off the pitch you will perform to your best on it.

“He worked wonders at Barnsley. He did really well on a restricted budget. He has got an eye for a player too. He coached a lot of the players into big moves.”

Hammill revealed that Heckingbottom has turned down numerous offers from clubs in England since parting company with Leeds because he wanted to wait until the right opportunity to get back into football management.

And he told how his former manager and friend had travelled extensively abroad during his time out of the game in order to study how foreign teams train and play.

Hammill added: “I felt sorry for how things ended for him at Leeds. I don’t think he got a fair crack of the whip at Leeds. He didn’t get the chance to implement his philosophies and get his type of players in.

“He has been out long enough. He hasn’t been idle in that time. I still talk to him on a regular basis. He has studied foreign teams, different football cultures and training methods and has visited clubs overseas.

“That shows you what kind of manager he is. He is constantly trying to learn and improve himself. He has visited different clubs to understand how they work and use the information at the club he joins. He knows that you are never too old to learn whether you are a player or a coach. You have got to adapt.

“I know he has turned down a lot of offers. He has said to me that it has to be the right club and it has to fit what he wants to do going forward. He has waited patiently for the right offer. A lot of managers don’t do that. That is a sign of a really good manager for me.

“Look at the calibre of managers there are in Scotland now – you have Brendan Rodgers, Steven Gerrard, Steve Clarke. He is going to go in amongst big managers and big names. But I think he has taken the right step. If he is given time to get his message across I have no doubt he will do a great job at Hibs.”