Keith Wright last night welcomed Hibs’ decision to provide clarity on their failed bid to keep Leigh Griffiths – and hopes manager Pat Fenlon can now move ahead quickly with the difficult task of replacing the top scorer.
Griffiths’ future has been shrouded in doubt for months, with the player and the Easter Road club having consistently made optimistic noises about retaining the services of the on-loan Wolves marksman.
The news that the Molineux outfit had taken up the option of an extra 12 months on the Scotland cap’s contract came as a massive blow, however, and not even relegation to League One or the change in management at Wolves could give Hibs renewed hope.
Chairman Rod Petrie revealed yesterday he spoke face-to-face with Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey in a bid to persuade him to part with the 28-goal striker, but that the talks had put to bed any chances the former Livingston and Dundee player would be staying with his boyhood heroes.
Petrie said: “I wanted to come to Wolverhampton to meet Jez face-to-face, to impress upon him the desire of Hibernian to acquire the services of Leigh Griffiths on a permanent basis.
“We had a cordial meeting and I put firm proposals on the table. However, these have been rejected outright. Reluctantly, we have to conclude that there is nothing further that can be done at this time to prise the player away from Wolves.”
Moxey has already stated his belief that Griffiths can be as big a success at Wolves as former Hibs striker Steven Fletcher and yesterday he described the 22-year-old as a “sensation” in his two-year loan spell north.
He said: “As we have previously stated, we took up the option to extend Leigh’s contract for season 2013-14, towards the end of April, and this was acknowledged in writing by the player.
“Our new head coach, Kenny Jackett, is looking forward to working with Leigh, who has been such a sensation in Scottish football during his time with Hibernian.”
Wright insists the news was not surprising and is hoping it will also now allow the club to look forward to next month’s return to Europe with more certainty.
Wright, who scored almost a goal a game in just over 200 appearances for Hibs during the 1990s, hopes an experienced striker can now be recruited to get the best out of promising youngsters Ross Caldwell and Danny Handling.
He said: “It was just hope more than anything else that Leigh could be kept for next season and, to be honest, this is the news the Hibs fans were probably expecting. It will still be a blow and it will now be interesting to see who the manager has lined up to come in his place.
“The fans will be hoping the club brings in at least one new striker before the European campaign, because if they were to get off to a good start and get through two or three rounds, that would be a huge boost.”