Hibs won’t be making a bid to bring Leigh Griffiths to Easter Road on an “emergency” loan deal, the Evening News can reveal.
Speculation was rife over the weekend that the 24-year-old striker could make a return to the Capital club after he failed to even make the bench for Celtic’s clash with Aberdeen, Griffiths afterwards making a dash to Edinburgh to take in the second half of Hibs’ dramatic victory against Cowdenbeath.
Hibs had made a move before the transfer deadline to lure Griffiths, who scored 28 goals in his last season with the club, back on loan, but it is understood they received no encouragement whatsoever from Celtic. At that time, Hoops boss Ronny Deila would have been left short in the striking department, with both Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde having been allowed to leave on loan to Brondby and Beveren respectively, although Celtic have since strengthened in that area with the £2.3 million purchase of Stefan Scepovic from Sporting Gijon and the loan move for John Guidetti from Manchester City, prompting claims that those transfers could open the door for Griffiths to move.
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs also had his problems up front as the deadline neared, top scorer Farid El Alagui ruled out for months after rupturing his Achilles tendon but the head coach has brought in Dominique Malonga, the French-Congolese hitman netting Hibs’ second goal in their 3-2 win at the weekend from the penalty spot as he made his debut as a substitute.
Bringing lifelong Hibs fan Griffiths back to Easter Road for a third spell would be hugely popular with the Hibs support, but whether the club would be able to argue the case for a maximum 93-day emergency loan deal outwith the transfer windows is open to question, Stubbs having Malonga, Paul Heffernan and Jason Cummings at his disposal.
However, there’s little doubt the Edinburgh outfit would be interested in testing that out if they got any indication from Celtic that lifelong fan Griffiths might be available but, as yet, it has been made clear that the former Livingston, Dundee and Wolves star, signed for the Glasgow club by Neil Lennon for £1 million in January, is unavailable.
Unless Celtic’s stance changes, the News understands Hibs won’t be making any further approach to the Premiership champions.
Griffiths himself, however, might decide to push the issue if he continues to find himself sidelined by Deila, with the Scotland forward having started just three of his club’s 11 matches so far this season.