Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has warned any January signings they’ll have to be ready to hit the ground running, as he revealed he won’t be making a move for Irish defender Evan McMillan.
The 26-year-old has been on trial with the Easter Road club this week, with one report emanating from Dublin suggesting he would become a Hibs player “within 48 hours”, a claim which had Fenlon phoning the reporter concerned. The manager said: “He caused me all sorts of problems writing an article that was totally unfounded.”
While admitting he’s looking to further strengthen his squad over the coming month, Fenlon insisted McMillan – who ended the season as Bohs’ top scorer – won’t be among any new arrivals.
He said: “Evan has been training for three or four days, but we won’t be in a position to offer him a contract, to be honest.”
Asked if that was down to financial considerations, with Fenlon already on record as saying he’ll probably have to move players on to make way for fresh talent as chairman Rod Petrie continues to warn that without increased gates further cuts are likely at Easter Road, he said: “No, it’s just something we won’t be taking up.
“I know Evan, I have seen him over a few years at home and there is a position in the squad we would like to strengthen defensively, but in fairness to him, he probably has not had a lot of training under his belt over a period of time, as the season in Ireland has been finished for a bit.
“He needs a little bit of time to get his levels of fitness up and that’s something we just do not have at the minute.”
While Fenlon has made it clear his priority is to hopefully negotiate extensions to the loan periods for top scorer Leigh Griffiths, Manchester City defender Ryan McGivern and Honduran midfielder Jorge Claros, he admitted that although talks are continuing on all three fronts with the respective parent clubs, the situation for each was no clearer.
Fenlon does, however, have some leeway with Petrie telling the club’s recent agm that the deals agreed for each of the three extend into the second and third weeks of the New Year, easing the fear they could all depart on January 1 although his manager has insisted he has contingency plans in place should Hibs fail on any of those fronts.
Meanwhile, Gary Deegan is in line to start his first match since the beginning of October when Hibs face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday. Deegan played the final 20 minutes of the defeat by Motherwell following his recovery from a broken jaw and had another run-out with the club’s Under-20s as they drew with Ross County in midweek.
Defender Tim Clancy has also returned to full training having undergone surgery to overcome a groin problem which had been troubling him for some time.
With skipper James McPake also fit again – although he will miss the trip to Ayrshire through suspension, having been sent off in the dying seconds of his comeback match – manager Fenlon acknowledges that he is enjoying the prospect of having a full squad at his disposal for the first time in weeks just as Hibs head into the hectic festive programme.