Hibs boss has several midfielders on his radar

Hibs are looking to recruit at least one new midfielder to help them deal with their winter injury problems.

Friday, 2nd December 2016, 5:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:23 pm
Neil Lennon's squad has been hit by injuries

Neil Lennon confirmed that ex-Juventus midfielder Fausto Rossi and former English Premier League pair Leon Osman and Jermaine Pennant are on his radar. However, the head coach played down a link with St Johnstone talisman Danny Swanson.

The desire to bolster the midfield at the earliest possible opportunity – free agents can be signed before the January transfer window opens – has been fuelled predominantly by injuries to key duo John McGinn and Fraser Fyvie.

Scotland internationalist McGinn is still on crutches after undergoing an ankle operation last week and could be sidelined until February, while Lennon confirmed that Fyvie, one of his team’s most consistent players this season, is set to be out until after Christmas with a groin tear.

Sign up to our Hibs football newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In addition, winger Alex Harris is out for the next month with a hamstring problem, while James Keatings and Danny Handling are still working their way back towards full fitness following injury lay-offs, and Dylan McGeouch, although available for tonight’s top-of-the-table Championship clash away to Dundee United, has been suffering from niggling groin trouble all season.

“Fraser’s looking at maybe four weeks out,” said Lennon. “It’s a groin tear and there’s been a bit of swelling so it’ll take a bit of time to heal. It’s a blow but we’ve got [Marvin] Bartley, McGeouch and [Scott] Martin as well as a couple of other permutations where we can change things around a bit.

“Alex Harris is out for three to four weeks with a torn hamstring as well. We are actively looking to bring someone in at the minute. We’ve made a couple of enquiries and then in January as well we’d be looking to add to the midfield department if we can.”

Rossi, the 25-year-old who left Juve in the summer following a loan spell at Serie B club Pro Vercelli, has been invited to Edinburgh for a trial. “He’s not got a club and we’ve made contact with his agent, but that’s as far as it’s gone,” said Lennon. “We’ve asked him to come in and train with us for a few days but we’re waiting on confirmation of that.”

Pennant, the 33-year-old former Stoke City and Liverpool winger, trained with Hibs two weeks ago as he looks to fix himself up with a club following a spell at Tampines Rovers in Thailand. Osman, the 35-year-old former Everton midfielder who has been a free agent since the summer, is unlikely to be coming to Easter Road, however.

“Pennant came in and trained for a couple of days and we’ve left things with him,” said Lennon. “We spoke to Leon Osman’s representatives as well but that was probably too ambitious from our point of view. It’s not like we’ve been sitting still. We are actively out there making contact with people, trying to strengthen what we already have. We’re not trying to get these guys in for a PR stunt. We’re trying to improve the team and help us get promoted.”

Lennon insists Hibs have not made any overtures to sign Swanson, a boyhood Hibs fan and former Hearts midfielder. “I don’t know where the Swanson story’s come from,” he said. “If I was going to make contact, the first person I’d call would be [Saints manager] Tommy Wright. There’s been no contact there.”

• Hibs Under-20s defeated their Aberdeen counterparts 2-1 last night to progress in the SFA Youth Cup.

Goals by Jamie Gullan and Oli Shaw had put the Hibees in control at Glebe Park, Brechin. Although Scott Wright pulled one back for the Dons, Hibs held firm to clinch victory in the fourth-round tie.