Hibs admit they’d like to sign Paddy McCourt

Paddy McCourt (left) grapples with Lewis Stevenson of Hibs during his Celtic days in 2011. Picture: SNS Group Alan Harvey
Paddy McCourt (left) grapples with Lewis Stevenson of Hibs during his Celtic days in 2011. Picture: SNS Group Alan Harvey
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Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today admitted former Celtic star Paddy McCourt was “a player we would like to sign”, as it was revealed the Northern Ireland winger is spending a week training with the Easter Road squad.

Although McCourt’s brother Leroy, who acts as his agent, revealed it was “99 per cent nailed on” that the 29-year-old would be moving to the United States after being released by the Hoops, the Major League Soccer season ends in October, raising the possibility of him signing a short-term deal elsewhere before the new American campaign kicks off next March.

McCourt, who played briefly under Fenlon at Derry City and is said to have remained friendly with his former boss has, however, attracted attention from elsewhere having recently completed a successful trial with Peterborough United while Birmingham City and clubs in Russia and Australia are said to be keen on contract talks.

The one-time Rochdale and Shamrock Rovers player is said to have approached training with Hibs with an open mind and today Fenlon revealed he hopes he can persuade 
McCourt to become his latest summer signing following the arrivals of Liam Craig, Owain Tudur Jones, James Collins and Michael Nelson while Kevin Thomson and Ryan McGivern both penned longer deals.

The Easter Road manager said: “I feel Paddy has his heart set on going across to America but the season there is coming to a close in a few weeks. He’s a player we would like to sign, he’s come in for a week for us to have a look at him and vice versa but what happens in the end is entirely up to him.”

Meanwhile, Fenlon revealed teenage midfielder Alex Harris has yet to learn the full extent of the ankle injury he suffered on the opening day of the new season. An initial examination revealed no break and a second scan planned for yesterday as the swelling around his right ankle was still too great to allow a more detailed diagnosis to be made.

Fenlon said: “We’ve put the scan off for another day or two. Alex faces an anxious wait but he is going to be out for a while.”

The 18-year-old joins a lengthy casualty list, Hibs having gone into the weekend match against Motherwell with skipper James McPake, Tim Clancy, Paul Cairney and Bradley Donaldson all injured.

While Cairney has been ruled out for three months and Harris a yet to be determined period, Fenlon hopes his worries will lessen with McGivern, deemed fit enough only to be on the bench on Sunday, played for the club’s Under-20 side as they defeated Ross County 4-2 in their opening match of the season, their goals coming from Euan Smith, Sammy Stanton, Max Tod and Jay Doyle.

McGivern has also been named in Northern Ireland’s squad for their rescheduled World Cup qualifying match against Russia at Belfast’s Windsor Park next Wednesday despite not having kicked a ball in anger for Hibs so far but should there be no reaction following last night’s run-out he could be in line for a first appearance of the season in Sunday’s derby with Hearts at Tynecastle.

McPake, who was forced to limp out of the second leg of Hibs Europa League clash with Malmo having suffered another back problem, has undergone a scan which, according to Fenlon, will be discussed by the club doctor and physios as they draw up a plan to return the big defender to action. Fenlon said: “James is more mobile and it looks as if it’s not as bad as feared.”

Ex-Hibs star Leigh Griffiths has signed a new two-year deal with English League One side Wolves, ending fans hopes that the striker who scored 28 goals last season might return to Easter Road next summer.