Hibs boss Alan Stubbs is determined to hold onto his current squad, revealing he’s aiming to tie up those players whose contracts are coming to an end on longer deals – possibly by the end of the month.
And he’s appealed for fans to give him the financial clout to do so by snapping up newly-launched season tickets as quickly as possible.
Easter Road skipper Liam Craig, fellow midfielder Scott Robertson, the club’s longest-serving player Lewis Stevenson and defender Liam Fontaine’s current deals are all due to expire as are the loan spells of Mark Oxley, Dylan McGeouch, Martin Boyle and Keith Watson while the shot-term contracts signed in January by Tomas Cerny and Fraser Fyvie were only until the end of the season.
Revealing he believes the current squad is good enough to compete in the Premiership should Hibs win promotion, the head coach said: “I want to hold on to everybody. I want to keep every part of this squad. I don’t want to lose anybody.
“I think there’s a real good backbone to the squad. We have a platform through the team that I feel if we can go up through the play-offs, which is our aim, then I think with the addition of a couple of players we’d have a good squad.
“We want to be successful so you have to keep your best players.”
Stubbs disclosed he’s already broached the subject with some of the players but believes such talks would become “very active discussions” with the individuals and their agents if season ticket sales take off.
Pointing how he’d managed to complete the bulk of his transfer activity early in the January transfer window, the arrivals of Boyle, Cerny, Franck Dja Djedje, Watson and Fyvie giving the club an added impetus, Stubbs said: “It was good we were not waiting to the last week of the window. It gave the players time to bed in and ideally I would love to have everyone signed up by the end of March or April. That would be the ideal situation for me.
“That’s why I said at the season-ticket launch the more we get signed up early on gives me greater opportunity to tie all the lads down. I think the fans are enjoying watching this team and in order to keep this team together we need to keep pulling in the right direction so the more season tickets we can sell early, the more shares that can be bought, the more we can get through the door the better.”
Stubbs acknowledged that some of his players may draw the attention of other clubs but, while admitting there was always the possibility he might lose one or two, he countered: “I would say there’s not many bigger clubs in Scotland than here and I think when you are a player you want to play at the big clubs.
“That’s what the club has going in its favour but obviously you run the risk of that.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs has warned his players not to lose focus in their bid to claim second spot in the Championship table having secured their place in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. He said: “We’ve spoken about the weekend. It’s great they have got themselves to a semi-final at Hampden but that’s on the back-burner, tonight is our most important game.
“Our minds are focused on Livingston. They have not necessarily got the results some of their performances have warranted so we have to be on our guard.”