PAT FENLON today admitted he is ready to turn to “Plan B” with time beginning to run out on the deals of loan stars Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern.
The trio are in the last month of the contracts they signed with the Easter Road club and although Fenlon revealed that while he’s not sure if he can keep all of them until the end of the season, he’s confident “one or two” will remain. Negotiations between Hibs and the players’ respective parent clubs, Wolves, Honduran outfit Motagua and Manchester City, have been ongoing for some time but, as yet, no agreements to extend the stay of any of the trio have been agreed.
He said: “The problem is, from a manager’s point of view, I can do nothing to control it. I know, as a club, we are doing as much as we can to keep all three of them. I know that because I meet every week [with the chairman]. We are putting in the hours, putting in the work, to do it. If I felt we were not doing that it would be more frustrating. I cannot control it, we cannot control it. We are doing as much as we can to make sure we can keep all three players.
“Outside of that, it is other people’s decisions, that is the frustrating aspect. We cannot control the outcome.”
Although all three will be available for the derby against Hearts at Tynecastle on Thursday, their deals will run out before the end of the January and Fenlon admitted sorting out their futures would have a major bearing on his thinking during the transfer window.
Asked at what point would he turn to an alternative plan, he answered: “They all expire within a week of each other, between the 15th and the 24th of January.
“We are at the stage where we have started to move on other options. We need to be able to bring in players if Leigh, Jorge and Ryan are not going to stay. I am confident that one or two of the loan players will stay. Whether we can keep the three, I’m not sure. We will probably have to move one or two out to bring new bodies in and we are trying to do that.”
Fenlon has been linked with a number of possible targets with reports in Perth suggesting St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig is on his wish list. The Hibs manager, though, refused to become embroiled in speculation. He said: “It’s coming out of Perth. We are interested in two or three players in this league but I don’t want to talk about other managers’ players.
“If something happens we will let people know about it, but at the moment I’ll leave that to someone else if that’s what they want to talk about.”
Craig is out of contract at the end of the season, so can speak to other clubs from the start of the new year, and can agree terms to join a new club next summer. While Fenlon will seek to freshen up his squad over the next few weeks, he won’t be averse to doing some longer-term business.
He said: “We’ll be looking to do a little bit of everything. We want to strengthen the squad for now and then look further down the road to strengthen it long term. You are trying to have all angles covered.”