PAT FENLON today brushed off speculation surrounding Garry O’Connor, insisting Hibs’ top scorer will remain at Easter Road.
The striker signed a 12-month deal to seal his return to the Edinburgh club last summer, starting the season with a ten-goal blitz in as many matches.
O’Connor has since taken his tally to 11, breaking a nine-match drought with a stunning free-kick against Inverness Caley, resulting in rumours sweeping the Capital that the January transfer window would see him on the move with Rangers said to be his most likely destination.
But today Hibs boss Fenlon claimed there had been no approaches made for the 28-year-old hitman and insisted none would be welcome.
He said: “I have heard or read stuff in relation to Garry but as far as I am aware there’s absolutely no interest in him and I do not want him to go anywhere.
“He is a big player for the club and, like I have said, we need him fit and fighting for the last part of the season when he is going to get us some goals.”
O’Connor, however, will be missing for tomorrow’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Second Division leaders Cowdenbeath as he bids to shake off the serious toe injury which has plagued him in recent weeks.
And the former Lokomotiv Moscow, Birmingham City and Barnsley star will be joined on the sidelines by goalkeeper Graham Stack, skipper Ian Murray and midfield powerhouse Isaiah Osbourne.
Stack damaged a calf in the derby day defeat by Hearts, Murray underwent a groin operation yesterday and Osbourne has yet to fully recover from the abductor muscle problem which has put him out of recent games. Although O’Connor made a late appearance as a substitute on Monday, Fenlon explained: “The plan was to rest him for two weeks. I didn’t really want to use him but the situation changed in the game and we threw him on to see if he could nick a goal.
“Garry has had the problem for four or five weeks, he’s been playing through a bit of pain and injections. We could have kept that going but we wouldn’t have got the best out of him.”
O’Connor is also in danger of missing next weekend’s crunch SPL clash with relegation rivals Dunfermline with Fenlon hopeful Hibs can extend on-loan Wolves striker Leigh Griffiths’ stay at Easter Road. If not, tomorrow’s match could be the Scotland Under-21 star’s last.
Stack, meanwhile, will also miss next week’s Pars clash.