Hibs boss hopes to add attacking midfielder after Stokes departure

Neil Lennon remains hopeful of recruiting an attack-minded midfielder before the close of the transfer window tonight after Swiss striker Florian Kamberi became Hibs' fourth January signing.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 8:02 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 8:11 am

However, the manager explained that any further additions will depend on whether or not any players depart Easter Road. Marquee striker Anthony Stokes left the club last night, while defender Liam Fontaine is wanted by Ross County and forward Deivydas Matulevicius is free to depart.

Kamberi, 22, has joined on loan from Grasshoppers Zurich until the end of the season in a move which has the potential to be made longer term. The Swiss Under-21 cap follows goalkeeper Scott Bain, full-back Faycal Rherras and attacker Jamie Maclaren in arriving at Hibs this month, and he could make his debut at home to Motherwell this evening.

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Neil Lennon

As well as preparing for tonight’s match, Lennon also finds himself putting the finishing touches to his squad. An attacking midfielder is at the top of his wish list. “There are a few plates spinning at the minute so we will see what the outcome of all that is,” said Lennon, speaking at his pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon. “We have a game as well so that doesn’t help. We are hoping we can get some business done but if not then I am pleased with what we have at the minute. But there are a couple of areas where if we can do work then great.

“I think it will be about 50/50 in terms of ins and outs. We do need players to go out before we can bring more in. Florian will be the last, unless I move others on. That’s the remit I’ve been given. There are a lot of phone calls being made and you think you have something but then it breaks down. But if the window shuts and we have what we have, that’s fine by me.”

Asked which type of player he would be particularly keen to add, Lennon said: “Maybe an attacking midfielder if I can find one but I don’t want to overcook it in certain areas. We have probably too many strikers and we hope that changes over the next 24 hours and then look to add one more midfielder. I’m not over-confident that will happen.”

One player who will be staying at Hibs is Danny Swanson, who had been the subject of a move by former club St Johnstone to take him back on loan after a difficult first six months at Easter Road. “Danny will remain after the transfer window,” confirmed Lennon. “He had the opportunity to go out and play but he made it clear he wants to stay and fight for his place.

Neil Lennon

“Maybe that’s what he needed. We were prepared to do the deal but Danny didn’t want to and that’s fine. He’s been unlucky with injuries but that has to stop. He needs to get to a high level of fitness where he is ready to play. But he is training hard and he looks very motivated and I want him to stay at that level of motivation for the rest of the season. He’s a good player and he’s training well and I hope to see the best of him in the second half of the season.”

Lennon is buoyed by the likelihood that, barring any late drama, Scotland midfielder John McGinn will be remaining at Easter Road beyond tonight’s deadline. “There have been no bids for John McGinn, although we may get a late bid,” he said. “Am I surprised by that? Yes, surprised but glad.”