TERRY Butcher has been given permission by Inverness Caley Thistle to speak to Hibs about the vacant manager’s job.
The Highland club issued a statement this afternoon saying they had received an official approach from Easter Road.
Club Chairman Kenny Cameron said: “Terry has been informed of the situation and has expressed an interest in meeting with Hibs officials. The club has, with great reluctance, granted him permission to do so. We will, however, continue to do everything possible to ensure that Terry remains our manager.
“Given our current position in the SPFL and the fact that once again we have a cup semi-final to look forward to, it is inevitable that if any managerial positions arise, our manager will be on the wanted list.
“We have a game on Saturday and it’s important that our club’s focus is on taking three points to maintain our challenge at the top of the league.
“As with the Barnsley approach in January, we will be making no further comment until we’re fully aware of the outcome of discussions.”
A statement on the Hibs website meanwhile confirmed that Jimmy Nicholl would be in charge for this weekend’s game.
“Hibernian FC today confirmed that following an approach, chairman to chairman in the appropriate manner, permission has been received late this afternoon to speak to Terry Butcher regarding the vacant managerial position at the Club. Hibernian FC is grateful to Inverness CT FC for granting permission.
“Both clubs have an important league match on Saturday with three vital points at stake. Chairman Rod Petrie met Jimmy Nicholl at the Hibernian Training Centre this morning and confirmed that Jimmy and the backroom staff should prepare the team this week and take the match on Saturday.”
Butcher has emerged as the clear front-runner to replace Pat Fenlon in the hotseat at Easter Road.
It was reported yesterday afternoon that Hibs had already agreed terms with Butcher although Inverness swiftly moved to refute such talk.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding the former England captain’s potential move to Easter Road, Hibs host Inverness in Edinburgh on Scottish Premiership business on Saturday. If a deal is agreed, the Highlanders are likely to demand that Butcher is not in the Hibs dugout this weekend.
The 54-year-old has been in charge at the Caledonian Stadium for almost five years, and has generally overseen a rise in the club’s fortunes since taking over at the business end of the 2008/09 season when they were all but relegated from the SPL.
After bringing Inverness out of the old First Division in 2010, Butcher has gone on to establish them in the top flight. On a shoestring budget, he took his team into the top six for the first time in its history last season, while also reaching the League Cup semi-final. The upward trajectory has continued this term with Inverness third, just a point behind rampant Aberdeen.
He has previously managed at Coventry, Sunderland, Motherwell, Sydney and Brentford, while he also had a spell as Scotland’s assistant manager under George Burley.
Meanwhile, Hibs will contest the two-match ban offered to Liam Craig for a charge of violent conduct from last week’s League Cup defeat to Hearts at Easter Road. Vincent Lunny, the SFA’s compliance officer, cited the midfielder for appearing to try and kick opposing forward Ryan Stevenson in the face.
Should the ban be upheld, Hibs’ top scorer would miss this weekend’s clash with Inverness and the first tie of next season’s League Cup.
A club statement read: “The club has appealed against the notice of complaint issued against Liam Craig.”