Hibs striker Simon Murray set to finalise move to South Africa
Striker Simon Murray was missing from the Hibs squad due to touch down in the Faroe Islands in the early hours of Wednesday morning as he closes in on a shock Â£150,000 move to South African club Bidvest Wits.
Paul Hanlon also didn’t board the plane carrying the Easter Road players, who will face NSI Runavik at the Toftir Stadium on Thursday night with their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League effectively sealed with an emphatic 6-1 win over the part-timers in Edinburgh last week.
But Celtic target John McGinn, an absentee through injury for the first leg as it was revealed a second bid of £1.75 million from the Glasgow club had been rejected by Hibs, did travel with the group.
Celtic are understood to have made no further approaches for the 23-year-old, who is also said to be attracting interest from south of the Border. The midfielder is set to make his first competitive appearance of the summer in the Faroes.
Murray, meanwhile, was Hibs’ top scorer with 15 goals last season despite spending the second half of the campaign on loan with Dundee as Swiss hitman Florian Kamberi and Australian striker Jamie Maclaren arrived to form a devastating partnership which helped propel the Capital side to fourth place in the Premiership table.
The 26-year-old, signed from Dundee United last summer, was the subject of a failed six-figure bid from Turkish club Elazigspor during the January transfer window. But he found himself part of that transfer deadline day merry-go-round which saw Scott Allan leave Dens Park for Hibs as he travelled in the opposite direction with goalkeeper Scott Bain, who had only signed for head coach Neil Lennon at the beginning of that month, moving to Celtic.
Murray, however, returned for pre-season training determined to fight for his place but, with Hibs accepting the offer from the South African Premier League club, it would appear he has realised there is no long-term future for him, his appearance as a substitute against Runavik last week likely to be his last for the club.
Hanlon was said to be carrying “a niggle” and, with the tie wrapped up and tomorrow night’s game taking place on an artificial pitch, it has been decided not to risk the defender ahead of the tougher matches which lie in wait in the next round in the shape of Greek side Asteras Tripolis, who have made regular appearances in the Europa League group stages in recent years.