Hibs are close to agreeing a deal to retain the services of Liam Fontaine, the Evening News understands.
Head coach Alan Stubbs is keen to keep the defender for next season’s Championship title tilt and the 29-year-old Londoner is open to extending his stay with the Easter Road club even though they failed to win promotion to the Premiership in the campaign just finished.
Fontaine arrived in Edinburgh last August after bringing to an end an eight-year spell with Bristol City and he swiftly established himself as a mainstay at the heart of Stubbs’ defence. The Englishman made 38 appearances and had such a positive influence on the team that he was asked to wear the captain’s armband on a couple of occasions towards the end of the season in the absence of skipper Liam Craig and his deputy, David Gray.
Hibs fans feared Fontaine, whose deal expired at the end of the season, would choose to return to England after their promotion bid was dashed by a play-off semi-final defeat by Rangers last month. However, the defender has enjoyed being one of the on-field leaders’ of Stubbs side and, after fruitful discussions between the club and his representatives, indications from those on both sides suggest he is more likely than not to remain with the Edinburgh club.
After taking a short break in America, Fontaine is currently with his family in Bristol, but, barring any approaches from other clubs in the coming days, there is a good chance he will be back up in the Capital next week to finalise terms.
Hibs have already tied down out-of-contract duo Lewis Stevenson and Fraser Fyvie on new deals, while Gray, the new skipper following Craig’s departure, agreed an extension to his own arrangement a fortnight ago. Stubbs’ squad has been beefed up by the arrival of Dan Carmichael and James Keatings last week, while Morton left-back Mark Russell has become the latest name to be linked with the Easter Road club, albeit the under-contract teenager would command a fee.
The Evening News has also learned that Hibs made tentative enquiries about Englishman Conor Newton before their promotion bid died. The Rotherham United midfielder had a spell at St Mirren during season 2012/13 and 2013/14.