Keith Wright has urged Hibs talisman Scott Allan to resist the temptation of a lucrative move away from Easter Road this summer.
The midfielder’s future continues to be the subject of speculation after a debut season with the Hibees in which he reignited his career and scooped the SPFL Championship player of the year award. Allan, pictured, has been linked with both Celtic and Rangers in recent weeks, with the Ibrox club widely expected to step up their pursuit of a player who has only a year left on his Hibs deal.
The Edinburgh club are keen to tie the 23-year-old down on a bigger contract, but much will depend on whether he wants to spend another campaign at Easter Road when there is the possibility of greater riches and a bigger stage on offer elsewhere.
However, Wright, the former Hibs striker, believes that Allan would be best served by staying put and continue to grow his profile under the club’s highly-regarded head coach, Alan Stubbs, before taking his pick from a greater array of suitors in a year or two’s time.
“He’s had a shot down south and it didn’t quite work out for him,” noted Wright. “I don’t know what advice he’s getting but, if he’s enjoying his football and playing every week for the next couple of years, I think he’s got to take advantage of that.
“His big move will come because you can’t play at that level every week and not get noticed down south. He could stay here for another year or two and really establish himself as a top player and then pick the right move to go back down south.” Wright knows that the fact Hibs failed to win promotion from the Championship last season could work against them with regard to keeping Allan, although he believes that particular issue could be overcome with a little financial sweetening.
“He’s too good for the Championship and that’s a problem that Hibs will need to try to sort out,” said the 50-year-old former striker. “I don’t know financially if he’s on a good deal but that could be the thing to push him over the line to stay with Hibs – a wee bit more financially on his contract.
“He looks like he’s enjoying his football. He’s involved in everything that’s happening on the pitch and he’s playing with a smile on his face. Hopefully that might prove more important than the money he could earn elsewhere. If he’s a Rangers fan or not, the fact that he’s playing every week, that the fans love him and that he’s a big part of what Alan Stubbs is doing, that might keep him here for a couple of years.”
There is feelgood factor building among the Hibs support as their team takes shape for the new season. Wright insists that if the club are forced to cash in on Allan, it shouldn’t be the signal for despondency to return. “The fans would be disappointed but football is like that. One goes, someone else comes in or comes through to take over,” said Wright. “Hibs fans will be disappointed if he doesn’t stay but they’ll get right behind whoever is playing. And they’ve got decent midfielders there.
“I’m sure there will be players Alan Stubbs has in mind, with the contacts he’s got. He’ll be sitting there every morning ticking off his list, knowing that if Scott does go, he will bring in him or him.
“He will be prepared if he does go, he won’t be standing still.
“I’m sure there will be good players maybe on the fringe of an English Premier League club who Alan Stubbs knows about, guys ready to come in. But hopefully we don’t need to worry about it.”
While Allan’s future is the subject of current speculation, Stubbs’ name has also been linked with the likes of Wigan Athletic and Sheffield United in recent months. The head coach’s popularity has been crucial to key players choosing to remain at Hibs, and Wright is optimistic that he will stick around for a while longer before heading to England.
“I think he’s at the right club, getting backing from the board,” he said. “He will probably have ambitions to go down south, he played there most of his days apart from his time at Celtic. He’s shown the kind of ambition to go and manage a big club in England, but at the moment he has to be enjoying being at a club like this – and I think he’ll stay for another two or three years.”