Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has revealed progress is being made in negotiations aimed at ensuring the out-of-contract players he wants to keep return to Easter Road next season.
Scott Robertson, Liam Fontaine and Lewis Stevenson fall into that category, while the short-term deals signed by Fraser Fyvie and Tomas Cerny in January are drawing to a close along, with the loan spells of Mark Oxley, Dylan McGeouch, Keith Watson and Martin Boyle. However, club captain Liam Craig is to leave the club following two years at Hibs.
Stubbs has already gone on record saying he’d like to retain his entire squad, although he’s conceded he may face competition from elsewhere while some may hesitate to commit themselves to another season of Championship football.
But, while no-one has yet put pen to paper, talks have been ongoing, leading Stubbs to say: “We are making progress with some of the players. Hopefully, we may have some news within the next week but I think one or two of them will be over the next few weeks. We’ll just have to wait and see how they progress.”
The head coach, however, is hopeful that the disappointment of seeing their promotion hopes dashed will be outweighed by the definite signs of progress which have been made over the course of the past ten months, believing that – along with the rousing reception his team received from their fans after their play-off exit against Rangers – might persuade some to agree new deals.
He said: “I was really pleased for the players that they got that response from the fans. They have obviously been through a tough time over the past 12 months but I think they can see real signs of progress, They see a team they can relate to. They are starting, I think, to like the team again.
“It’s been a work in progress for the majority of the season. Unfortunately, we were playing catch-up from day one but I think if you look back from then to today you will see it’s night and day. Ultimately, it has not got us what we wanted from the outset and that was to get promoted, to go straight up.
“From that point of view, it’s disappointing. There’s no point in me saying anything different. I am disappointed for the players because they have put in an awful lot this season.
“I think we performed well in the two games against Rangers. There were moments in both which could have been pivotal. We had moments at 0-0, at 1-0, and again at 2-0 at Ibrox to get ourselves into the game but unfortunately we did not take them.
“Then we had moments once more on Saturday. We played well in large parts of the game, we were on the front foot for the majority of it but just couldn’t get that break or opportunity to give us a chance to have a real good go at them.”